Marriage is for Life — Not from Wife to Wife
When the standard Protestant teaching of open divorce was adopted by the Worldwide Church of God in 1974, most members accepted that enormous change without giving much time to its consideration. No one was encouraged to go to God to see if this old Protestant teaching really was “new truth.” The members were given this “new truth” by God’s ministers. God’s ministers were given this “new truth” by headquarters. And with HWA always running around the world, headquarters was a man who was giving Solomon a run for his money —
Adopting Protestant Marriage Practices
For forty years, from 1934 until 1974, the Radio/Worldwide Church of God taught marriage for life. Students at Ambassador College were required to take Principles of Living and Family Relations classes, where we were taught to take great care in getting married, and then take great care of that marriage. — because marriage is for life.
At the time we were in Ambassador, no AC grads had ever gotten divorced. For over twenty years all those people who had been taught that marriage is for life kept their marriages intact. An incredible record.
But Herbert Armstrong was surrounded by men through whom God had never miraculously worked, as God had with him. HWA was especially subject to the influence of one man, a quick thinking, glib talking, handsome man of great talents. This man was Herbert Armstrong’s opposite, in flair and fashion, and in his approach to God.
For example, on the Sabbath commandment, Herbert’s thinking was, “What can I do to honor God on His Sabbath?”
The other man asked the rhetorical question, “If, on the Sabbath, I am passing by the swimming pool on a hot southern California Saturday afternoon and fall in, is that breaking the Sabbath?”
He then extended this thinking: “If I take a short, refreshing, uplifting dip in my pool on a hot California Sabbath afternoon, is that breaking the Sabbath?”
His interest was in finding all he could get away with on the Sabbath, and still be considered technically obedient. His focus was on himself, not God. This thinking finally found its full fruition when he was videotaped naked chasing a masseur around her parlor, on a hot Texas Sabbath afternoon.
This man, with this spiritual approach, was the prime agent for changing the church’s teaching that marriage is for life. This change was supposed to be for the good of the people — he saw himself as a helper of their joy — and this change was supposed to allow the church to enter a new phase of astronomical growth.
This man and his close associates heavily lobbied Herbert Armstrong to change the church’s teaching on marriage for life, but the stubborn old man was stuck on the principle that “what God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” But that principle was put asunder, and the “new” old Protestant teaching was jammed down the throats of the ministry at a ministerial “conference” in 1974.
It wasn’t really a conference at all. There was no conferring. It was a cramference, where this new teaching was crammed down our throats in a few days. We were not told to pray and study and ask God if this new teaching, which wasn’t new at all because most other churches already taught it, and which totally contradicted everything we had believed up to that point, was right. We were simply told to swallow it.
After those few days of re-teaching, any who still believed what the church had taught for 40 years were told to leave. The giver of truth was the true church, and they were giving it to us. No need to double check with God.
In presenting this new teaching, the extreme rhetorical question was again used: If a primitive heathen tribe performs some strange wedding ceremony where they dance in a trance around a campfire all night long and do exotic, mystic rites, is God in that marriage?
Naturally, to us European types, jungle wedding ceremonies did seem a touch weird, so the conclusion was reached that God was not in those strange marriages. From there the next logical step was that God is not in any marriages at all outside “His church.” God was only working in “His church.” Therefore God only bound marriages in “His church.” His church was The Worldwide Church of God, Post Office Box 111, Pasadena, California.
Thus the teaching was that there was one law for Worldwide and another law for the world. This was an incredible teaching, because it meant that all those people outside WCG who thought they were married were merely fornicating freely.
If only they had known.
Consequently, when people outside God’s church divorced, they were not putting asunder what God had joined together, because God had never joined them together in the first place, since they had not been married in God’s Church, The Worldwide Church of God, Box 111, Pasadena, California.
With this, HWA’s objection was satisfied. By teaching married people to remarry, they were only putting asunder what God had never joined together, anyway. He and Stan Rader left the country after the cramference in 1974, while the ministers, who had just had the pro-divorce teaching crammed down their throats, then crammed it down the throat of the whole church.
I don’t think we ministers had thought of it — I guess we were like zombies, so maybe those native wedding ceremonies weren’t so weird, after all — but many church members immediately brought up an obvious question: “Since we were married before we came into God’s church, The Worldwide Church of God, Box 111, Pasadena, California, do you mean our marriage is not bound by God?”
It was not clear whether these people were angered or excited at the thought that their marriages were null.
These startled people were assured that their marriages were now bound, once they were entered as a member into the WCG computer, or for those early members, into the card file. At the time they entered WCG, that was the marriage that God bound. That was the marriage that was to be for life. Divorce is a sin in the past for those people who suffered it, and that sin can be forgiven just like any other sin. But the marriage in existence at the time of entry into God’s church was then bound for life.
Or so they said. But that was a lie.
This was the same procedure that Satan used with the later WCG spiritual dictators. They would move the church one step toward lawlessness, and then say that was all. Just that one little step. And they were lying. It was just one step at a time, and once you took that one step toward lawlessness, you would take another one. That’s why Satan uses the dictatorial form of governmental. It makes it so much easier to deceive the masses.
It was the same back in 1974. Different dictators in charge, but being led by the same lawless spirit, and using the same method. One step at a time.
First they said that all non-WCG marriages were not bound by God, so those marriages could be put asunder. They led HWA to conclude that non-WCG marriages were not bound by God, but that WCG marriages were the ones bound by God for life. Surely some marriages had to be bound by God, he thought!
However, once they broke the marriage for life principle, —
When they had gotten the church to accept that enormous first step, that all marriages are not joined by God for life —
They then easily jumped to the next step — that no marriages are joined by God for life.
The WCG immediately preached that there is never a point where marriage is for life. Never!
If a WCG member committed any type of activity which could be considered by a mate, or a minister, as illicit, or if a member left the church, for a sufficient period of time as determined by a minister, then the other mate was free to divorce and remarry.
No marriage is ever joined by God for life! That’s the doctrine that all of you believe. All you Meredithites, Dartites, Unitedites, Flurrites and Humites — you all believe that God never joins any marriages for life. You all believe that there is always some circumstance that can end every marriage.
This was a total contradiction. HWA had gone along with the liberals to say that all non-WCG marriages weren’t bound by God for life, but that all WCG marriages, including those in effect at the time of baptism in WCG, were bound for life. However, from that point on, there were never any marriages that were considered bound for life. None. Any marriage could be ended by certain circumstances.
They taught that no marriage is ever joined by God for life, while saying they taught that marriage is for life. What a farce!
But it was smooth, wasn’t it?
The right side of the glib mouth spoke of being married for life to the one you are with at baptism, while the left side of the glib mouth spoke of all the ways to end a marriage. And it worked well.
Thousands of members ended their marriages.
So if you wonder why the minister who preaches to you that marriage is for life has taken more than one wife — that’s why. In the Churches of God, marriage is never really for life.
The church accepted this teaching in very short order. No one was encouraged to fast and go to God or to check the Bible closely to see if this was the mind of God. The members checked with God’s ministers. God’s ministers checked with headquarters. And headquarters was —
Whose Mind Did We Follow?
The destruction of the marriage for life teaching in the church, led by a man who for over 40 years has had not the slightest understanding of marital fidelity — a spiritual Wilt Chamberlain, was total and complete.
When this man was temporarily out of the church in the early 1970s, a relative of his, at a regional ministerial conference in Cincinnati, gave an estimate of how many Pasadena women God’s evangelist had laid. “A couple hundred,” the head of ministerial administration figured. And decades later, when the everlovin’ evangelist should have been a wise grandfather, giving his grandchildren tidbits of wisdom from his life, he was still chasing women. Who knows what his total was by then, or with Viagra, will be?
How likely is it that with his life’s record, God is going to let his mind understand deep spiritual truths?
The disobedient mind only understands disobedience. God only gives increased understanding to those who obey Him. To those who disobey God gives a reprobate mind.
With this man’s thinking, as expressed in his personal actions over and over and over through all the decades, what other conclusion on marriage could he possibly have come to? His disobedient mind would have to conclude that marriage is not sacred. That’s all he knows.
Yet it is his mind, more than any other, which is responsible for the Church of God teaching on marriage today.
A supporting pillar for this change from marriage for life to marriage from wife to wife was that the Worldwide Church of God alone is God’s true church.
Believers were only in Worldwide. Only Worldwide marriages were bound by God, they pretended. No other marriages or divorces really counted.
An unbeliever was very easily defined as anyone who left WCG. If an emigrant went to the Church of God (Seventh Day) or one of the Yahwist groups, even though they might become more obedient to God than they had been in WCG, as many did, they were considered unbelievers, and their marriage was vulnerable to destruction. Anybody who left Worldwide was subject to being divorced and his mate considered free to remarry, because he had left the one true church.
Notice the increasing control given by the teaching that only Worldwide was God’s true church. WCG controlled eternal salvation. You couldn’t be one of God’s people unless you were in God’s church. And WCG controlled your marriage. Your marriage was bound only as long you stayed in God’s church, the Worldwide Church of God, Box 111, Pasadena, California.
Today the concept that believers were only in the Worldwide Church of God seems ludicrous. Almost no present or former Worldwiders now believe that. It has become evident that often it was the believers in God who were leaving WCG and the unbelievers who were staying.
The teaching that the Worldwide Church of God was the only true church on earth was simply used as a snare to see who would individually obey God and who would obey men instead. It was nothing more than a bronze serpent. Yet that precept was used as the basis for picking up the marriage teaching that most of the other churches already had.
So if two United young people marry, are they not bound because they are not in WCG? If a couple in the Living Church of God begin living together in holy matrimony, does God not join that marriage? Or will some teach that now God only joins the marriages in UCG, or LCG, or PCG, or Dave Hume’s CG, and no others count?
Was Herbert Armstrong, born of Quaker parents who were not at all in God’s Church, illegitimate?
This is all absurd.
It was always absurd. No church ever stands between man and God. When a man and woman vow to mate, God sees that. Wherever. Whenever. WCG, Church of God 7th Day, RCC, Methodist, or native. Just as John held the Gentile Herod responsible for his marriage, and Christ held the Samaritan woman responsible for her marriage, when you vow to marry someone before God, you got it.
Two ironies here:
One is that most ex-WCG people now realize that the man who was most responsible for engineering the destruction of marriage in WCG has led an unholy, unconverted life. Yet those people almost unanimously follow his teaching on marriage, which he maneuvered into the church.
The second irony is that this change in teaching, which was supposed to lead to astronomical growth in the church, brought a huge curse on the church from the day it was instituted. This change was immediate and catastrophic. The church soon had a high rate of failing marriages, probably higher than the general population. Whereas the church formerly had whole, wholesome families sitting together, this soon turned into families with holes. The astronomical growth that was expected in the church never happened. The opposite occurred.
This curse also fell personally on Herbert Armstrong’s private life, with his marrying and divorcing a divorced woman, the most shameful part of his public life.
When this change occurred, the change in teaching that marriage is for life, the whole church was cursed, HWA was cursed, and many individual families suffered enormously.
The belief that Christians can marry multiple mates has been an integral part of Protestantism since the Reformation.
The Roman church had always taught that marriage was for life. In practice, though, they could be bought off. If the person who wanted a new mate could pay the required fee, the church would declare that his marriage had been a fraud to begin with and annul it. Therefore, the marriage was as if it had never occurred. The Roman church presumed that it had the authority to do this. In our time, Herbert Armstrong presumed the same thing and would take it upon himself to annul a marriage and a family that had been continuing for years, thereby freeing the parties to keep the same partners they had been committing adultery with.
Because the Roman church presumed that they could stand in the place of God, and because of their gross hypocrisy in taking bribes to slither around their own teachings, at the time of the Reformation they received stinging criticism on their marriage teaching. One of their prime critics was Erasmus. He taught that love exceeded law. If an unhappy couple was forced to stay together because of the marriage law, that was not love. If that couple could divorce and remarry, they could find happiness, and that was the loving approach.
He also believed in the concept of two laws. He said that when Christ taught marriage for life in Matthew 5, He was speaking only to the disciples, who were the purest ones — the true church, as it were. But there were others, he said, who were not so pure and had need of disobeying Christ in different matters, such as taking more than one mate.
Erasmus never broke with the Roman church, even though he criticized it broadly. Martin Luther, who was put out of the Roman Church and spearheaded the Protestant Reformation, shared Erasmus’ view that marriage was not for life. He concluded that since Old Testament law required that adulterers be stoned to death, if a mate committed adultery, he could be counted as dead. Thus the other spouse was then free to remarry. One sacred name group teaches this approach today. However, if the adulterous mate later repents of his sinning and wants forgiveness, this dead mate doctrine allows no room for resurrection.
As always happens when the law is loosened a little, it soon becomes a lot. The Protestant reformers broadened their dead adulterer doctrine to include deserters. If a man left his wife and children, he was no better than an adulterer, so his mate was free to remarry. If a woman refused to submit to her husband as Vashti refused Ahasureus, then he was free to find his Esther. If a man was impotent ... Well, there was no question that he was dead, so he could be divorced, too.
The Protestants, then, since the early 1500’s, left the Biblical law that marriage is for life, and replaced it with love and human reason. This is basically the new truth that WCG picked up 400 years later, in 1974.
It has been shown by different studies that the Bible Belt, and Christians in general, have more divorces than non-Christians.
Christians know that God hates divorce. So, of course, being good Christians, they hate divorce, too, and really wish they didn’t have to get divorced themselves. But they do. Over and over. More than the people who don’t hate divorces.
Churches set up divorce support programs. They know that tearing marriages asunder is a great evil and causes individuals great trauma, second only to death. But like the government welfare system, which causes what it aims to prevent, these divorce support systems encourage Christians to go ahead and end their marriages, because they know a lot of people will support them when they do.
These Christians have their cake and eat it, too. They hate divorce, and they get divorced all the time. Apparently they don’t hate divorce nearly as much as God does.
So it is with the churches of God, which adopted nominal Christianity’s teaching on marriage. They say they teach that marriage is for life, all the while having divorce as an ongoing practice. They have their cake and eat it, too.
Seven times the New Testament teaches that marriage is for life. Four times in the gospels, once in Romans, and at the beginning and end of I Corinthians 7, to set the boundaries for everything else that is said in that chapter.
Indeed, the Churches of God say they believe in marriage for life. But at the same time they say that marriage can be ended in a number of ways.
All those people you have seen get divorced and remarried in the Church of God were supposedly married for life. If they were married for life, how is it that they are now remarried? So now they again maintain that they are once more married for life. Until they decide not to be.
If you can remarry if your mate commits adultery, you are not married for life. You are only married until your mate — or you — commits adultery.
If you can remarry if your mate leaves your religion, you are not married for life. You are married only until your mate — or you — finds a new church.
By the non-life marriage teaching, it is relatively easy to put a marriage asunder. Just renege on your marriage vow and commit adultery. That frees your mate to remarry, which, logically, frees you, too. You can’t have one party unbound and the other bound. Then you can marry your new found love and put it all behind you, since divorce has to be forgiven just like any other sin, and again sit in a congregation of God’s church.
Renege, remarry, repent, and resit.
That’s not marriage for life at all.
Marriage for life has to mean that you are joined together, no matter what, as long as you both have life. In sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, till death do you part. That is marriage for life.
To say that marriage is for life and then allow all these early exits is a Clintonistic prevarication. Bill-babble. What is “is”?
So even though they proclaim that they believe that marriage is for life, the churches of God are filled with divorce. Because they don’t really teach marriage for life. They only say they do. In reality, the churches of God teach that marriage is never bound until death.
Just as with Christianity in general, by accepting any divorces at all, the Churches of God have become filled with the practice.
For example, a church member divorced his/her mate, married another church member, divorced that one, then remarried the first one. This, of course, is nothing more than mate swapping, papered over with state marriage licenses. Such perversion of the marriage principle was not allowed even in hard hearted Israel, but it was allowed in God’s church.
A minister committed adultery with the wife of a member, divorced his own wife, and married the other woman. They were all together in God’s true church: the minister, the member’s ex-wife now married to the minister, and the minister’s ex-wife, looking for a new husband, within God’s church, and all the kids therein involved.
The only one who wasn’t there was the member who had his wife stolen. He was put out for a bad attitude.
A man commits adultery with another woman in the church, divorces his wife, and remarries the other woman. This new marriage ceremony is conducted by a Church of God minister, gifts for the newlyweds are brought by Church of God members, and on some Sabbath the minister gives an appropriate sermon about the meaning of marriage.
You probably know of a situation in your local group which has made a mockery of marriage. People commit adultery, get divorced, then remarry, repent, and resit in the congregation. Over and over and over this happens. It’s all legal, according to the Talmudic rules of Christianity.
The churches are filled with divorce, marriage is mocked, God hates it and the fruits show it.
The fact is: if you accept divorce and remarriage in any form, then you accept it in all forms. What is intended to be a teeny tiny crack becomes a cavernous carnal chasm.
But this chasm is not just theoretical theological tidwinkle. This chasm crushes the lives of all who fall in it.
Pro-divorce advocates often use liberal buzzwords concerning the church’s original teaching of marriage for life. They call the teaching that marriage is for life, instead of from wife to wife, “abusive” and “cursed,” They feel that people need to divorce and remarry to be happy.
Let’s disabuse ourselves of the notion that marriage for life is abusive.
At the time of this “abusive” teaching, no Ambassador College graduates had ever gotten divorced. In the college and in the whole church, we were carefully taught to take care of our marriages, love our mates, and be dedicated to them for life.
At that time, the church was filled with wonderful families, row after row of mother, father, and their kids sitting together peacefully. The church itself was full of life and love. God Himself was working within that church then. Many people were being called to a better way. The church was not close to perfect, but they tried hard to be obedient, and God was working with it.
When the teaching of marriage for life was changed to the teaching that marriage is not for life — that is, you can remarry if your mate commits adultery, leaves Worldwide, sells the goats (!), etc. — what happened?
In the last 25 years, Church of God people have suffered terrible trauma, depression, suicides, and broken lives, all because of the present abusive treatment of the church —
Which is —
Encouraging, directly or indirectly, their members to divorce their mates.
You can’t have it both ways.
If you teach that marriage is for life, then remarriage families are split up.
If you teach that marriage is not for life, then original marriage families are split up.
When the pro-divorce people talk about the “abusive treatment” of the former Church of God, they are only thinking about the remarriage families, where some decided to reunite with a former mate or live singly with God rather than remarry. How about all those more numerous original marriage families that they have broken up since?
How many thousands of Church of God children have been forsaken by parents who were force fed, without open study or discussion, the anti-life marriage doctrine? How many church of God ministers today stand before their congregations with no fire in their hearth, having been deceived into not being careful with their marriages, and who left the wife of their youth and picked up someone else’s?
What is the cost in human suffering of breaking up all these homes?
The Ten Commandments place adultery just below killing. On a stress scale, psychologists place divorce just below a death in the family. Children of divorces have been repeatedly shown to have lasting chronic scars from the shattering experience. When we worked in a Christian school, we could consistently pick out the children of divorces without ever asking. They played angry basketball!
Just as political liberals concentrate on the woes of the criminal and overlook the victim, so all these thousands and thousands of destroyed original families have been cruelly overlooked by those hollering about the divorce and remarriage abuse of the church. And just as the political liberals, through their form of love, cause more crime and more victims, so those who advocate multiple marriages, their form of mercy, actually cause divorces and shattered lives.
Naturally pro-divorce people don’t say they are pro-divorce, any more than pro-abortion people say they are pro-abortion. They’re pro-choice. But pro-abortion people — such as Planned Parenthood, N.O.W. and Hillary, all of whom really don’t like abortions — cause abortions. And those who teach multiple marriages, even though they profess to hate divorce, cause divorces.
Political liberals try to disassociate AIDS from sodomy, and religious liberals do not associate accepting divorce with busted families. But sodomy causes people to get AIDS, and teaching divorce directly causes mates to leave their mates and families to be fractured.
If you teach that marriage is for life, then remarriage families are split up.
If you teach that marriage is not for life, then original marriage families are split up.
Ex-Worldwiders can easily see that after 1974, when the church began to teach that marriage is not for life, the WCG hurtled downward as Satan fell from heaven. Even those who helped cause this demise declare that the early 70’s were the peak of that church. When the church taught marriage for life, the church was alive. When we entered the period of open divorce, that church choked and died. Within 20 years of this cataclysmic change, the Worldwide Church of God ceased to even pretend to be a commandment keeping church of God. Their trip down the road of permissive Protestantism was complete.
Because of the hard-hearted teaching that marriage is not for life, divorce and remarriage in the churches of God is not some sin from the distant past that has been repented. It is an ongoing, life shattering, never ceasing practice.
Further, a great number of these remarried divorcees divorce again, and suffer further bitterness.
Pro-divorce advocates call the church’s original teaching cursed. But that church wasn’t cursed. Today’s church is.
Some pro-divorce teachers admit that Christ taught that there is to be no divorce at all. But they go on to reason that the way of mercy is to allow divorce and remarriage.
First of all, this makes the teacher of divorce more merciful than Christ himself. As if Yahshua, Yhwh’s salvation, who gave Himself in a cruel execution for the repentant sinners of the world, did not understand mercy. But Christ taught that divorce and remarriage, which was allowed to Israel under the Old Covenant, was not merciful, but hardhearted.
That which human reason says is merciful, Christ called hard hearted. Not being forever true to your original mate is hardhearted.
A woman left her husband and her children and her church and walked on the wild side. Evidently she felt that she had been missing something with her kids and her husband and God, so she left to find what she had been missing.
The husband, of course, was extremely stung by the stunning actions of his wife. He remained stable, took care of the kids, and continued in church as always.
The wife went through taverns and tramps, and after a while, realized she hadn’t been missing anything but taverns and tramps. The forbidden fruit was seedy. She became sorry for what she had done, and she wanted to go back with her husband and her family.
She wanted mercy. Just as Christ forgave the woman taken in adultery, she wanted to be forgiven.
Her husband would not grant this. He would not take her back. The church he attended taught divorce and remarriage as a way of life, and did not teach mercy and continuing love for the fallen mate. His wife had left the “true church,” she had committed adultery, so the husband was free to remarry. Which he did.
The church’s teaching had no mercy for the prodigal daughter.
The kids forgave their mother. She was their mother, their only mother for this lifetime. With them, there was no question whatsoever of their divorcing their mother. No matter what she did, adultery or not, she would always be their mother. And when she asked them for forgiveness, they had mercy on her, and they took her back as their mother.
A perfect love of one mate for another is this same kind of perpetual love. No matter what, he/she is the mate for life. And if he/she asks for it, the mate will give mercy and forgiveness, even to seventy times seven. Just as these kids did for their mother.
When an unbeliever departs, and the “believing” mate remarries, what if the unbeliever repents? What if he/she is the lost one that left the 99, and then comes back? Where is mercy? Where is concern for that one that left? When should you stop seeking for them?
The present teachings of the churches allow no room for mercy for the original mate. Hardhearted. They completely miss the essence of Christianity.
Another example: a man molests his daughter for some length of time. The family does not imprison him, but puts him out of the household to protect the daughter. The wife and husband divorce and soon he remarries, making the females he has mated with include his original wife, his daughter, and now his new wife, and possibly someday some new daughters. His original wife, who never remarried, comes down with a serious disease, no doubt in part caused by the perverse husband and his sins against his family. At this terrible time, she could have used a husband who had repented of his awful sins, and who was loyal to and supporting his wife and family in this time of great stress, even if he wasn’t living with them. This was what needed to be done. Instead, because of the Church of God teaching of multiple mates, the man quickly remarried, totally forsook the wife of his youth, the mother of his children, and gave no support to his original wife and family, all the while following Church of God doctrine.
This is so hard hearted Satan himself would be proud.
A characteristic of liberal love is that it applies to general groups, but fails with individuals. The Clintons and their sycophants are great illustrations of this. They have great love for the poor, but some of Clinton’s top level cabinet appointees had not paid the pittance of Social Security taxes for their Hispanic maids. Liberals have great love for women in general, and spout out often about “women’s rights,” but the individual women Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaderick were physically attacked by Clinton and then vilified by his feminist followers for daring to tell about it.
So it is with Christian liberals. Their love and mercy applies to women as a whole. They say we have to allow remarriage, for the sake of the poor women who suffer from divorce. But their love and mercy does not extend to the poor women who are being divorced.
You either have multiple marriages, or you have marriage for life. And Christ clearly said that having multiple mates is hard hearted. There is no mercy for the original mate.
When the anti-life marriage doctrine was adopted, it was said that all divorces in the past would be forgiven, and they wouldn’t divorce any more from that point on. Those who were living with someone other than their original mate would stay with the one they were with at the time of conversion, and that particular marriage would be for life.
Why didn’t God allow the pagan wives to stay with Israel at the time of Ezra? Why not just allow those families to stay together, and say that from that point on they were not to take any more pagan wives?
Almost all Christians would follow this reasoning. The Israelite men and pagan women already had kids, and were functioning families. Let them stay together, and from then on, the men wouldn’t take any more pagan wives. Human mercy, human love, and human understanding would do that.
But that is not what happened.
At the time of Ezra, what if Yhwh had allowed them to keep their pagan wives, and only forbade them from repeating that mistake in the future?
The sin of idolatry would have remained in their midst. They had just returned from captivity, having been taken captive because of idolatry. The whole nation of Judah was at risk.
Likewise, what is the harm if a second wife stays with her new husband after baptism? In looking at the history of this policy for a quarter century in the WCG, what is the harm that has been done?
The harm that has been done is that the institution of marriage has been destroyed in the Church of God, as it has been in Christianity, as it has been in the whole country.
Look around you at the families of your acquaintance that have been destroyed because of the teaching that marriage is not for life. Thousands of church of God families and dozens of ministers’ families have been shattered, simply because they believed they were not married for life, and acted on that belief.
Many other families that are still together live under a constant cloud of doubt. Husbands and wives have “problems,” and they don’t know if it will “work out” or not, because they’re not committed to a lifetime marriage. There’s always the possibility that one will make a mistake and the other will leave. There is the lingering idea with some that maybe “God” wants them to leave, and find a better relationship. The marriage is under a cloud of doubt, instead of a covenant of commitment. The family is fragile and fractious.
Marriage is never sacred in Christianity and in the churches of God. At any given time, any marriage is subject to destruction. The wife commits adultery and it’s “Goodbye, Gertrude.” The husband changes churches and it’s “Chuck it, Charlie.”
This is the harm that has been done. The institution of marriage itself has been defiled. Marriage is never for life. In that sense, it has been destroyed.
Why didn’t God allow the pagan wives to stay in Israel? Because the whole nation of Israel was at stake.
Why doesn’t God allow people who are remarried when they are baptized to stay with their second or third mate?
Because the whole institution of marriage is at stake.
Look at the history of the Worldwide Church of God and its ragged remnants in the last quarter century. Not very long in history, yet look at the change. Not only the institution of marriage was destroyed, but the whole church was afflicted. All because of human mercy, shortsighted human love, saying — All these divorcees will stay together, and we just won’t divorce any more.
It didn’t happen like that. Divorce is not some distant sin from the past. It is a constant, perverse practice among those called to be God’s people
WCG said that all past sins, including the sin of divorce, were washed away by the blood of Christ at baptism. They said that divorce was a sin that could be forgiven like any other sin, and that any previous marriage was done away by Christ’s sacrifice.
Those divorces that had to be forgiven in the past also had to be forgiven in the present. If marriages in the past had been washed away by Christ’s blood, then many marriages in the present could be washed away by Christ’s blood. Any sin that was forgiven in the past had to be forgiven in the present.
So all those divorces that were to be left in the past kept recurring.
This is a common occurrence in the churches . A man commits adultery against his original wife. They then divorce, and he marries the woman he was committing adultery with. Next, he repents of his divorce sin, while staying married to his new wife.
Doesn’t he now have to be forgiven?
Divorce is a sin that can be forgiven like any other sin, isn’t it?
So by normal Protestant theology, which WCG adopted, the man and his new wife have to be considered in full fellowship, because the previous marriage has been washed away by the blood of Christ. And, of course, he and his new bride are now married “for life”.
But — the prime sin here was adultery. The man was dissatisfied with his wife, lusted after another woman, and went out and got her. Under the Protestant teaching, — amazingly — this stolen relationship is continued, while the original God ordained marriage, and the first wife, is washed down the drain by the blood of Christ. The man who lusted after the other woman gets to keep her. His lusts are fulfilled, and he gets the blood of Christ to cover them.
This practice may even be repeated by the same man or woman, divorcing and marrying again, each time “for life,” always with the church’s blessing.
But this is all a farce. It’s just open divorce, covered with a communion cup.
It sounded so good. Divorce is a sin in the past, to be repented of like any other sin, and all marriages from baptism on are for life. But it didn’t happen that way at all.
There is no halfway ground. It’s all or nothing. Either marriage is for life, or marriage is meaningless.
There are only two possibilities: marriage for life, or open divorce and multi-mating.
When the Worldwide Church of God picked up the teaching of divorce and remarriage as new truth, they were only adopting what nominal Christianity had taught for centuries. This was one of many moves WCG made in this direction, where they came up with old Protestant doctrine as new truth.
With marriage practices, there is no real difference between the churches of God, and ordinary Christians, and the world at large. They all divorce and remarry freely. It’s just that the world is more open and honest about it, while Christians try to sugarcoat their divorces, classifying them as good divorces and bad divorces.
All theirs are good.
Yhwh himself never gave detailed rules for good divorces and bad divorces, even when divorce was allowed. Because of that, the Jews had continuous arguments over the grounds for divorce.
The churches today, Christian and the Churches of God, have merely continued the arguments of the Jews. They spend their time trying to determine what is a good divorce and a bad divorce.
It’s not a question of good divorces and bad divorces. You can’t have just a few good divorces and multi-matings. It is a question of marriage for life, or marriage from wife to wife. Either marriage is for life, or marriage is meaningless.
Any divorce allowed in the past has to be allowed in the present and will always pop up in the future. Whatever mistakes have been made in the past will always be made in the present. Any allowance of divorce in the past must always allow for divorce in the present. Thus it becomes a normal, established practice. An attempt is made to put a theological cover on this practice, but there is always a theological exit. Marriage is never for life. Always from wife to wife.
This is what Christ had to change: the teachings of the Jews, the very same teachings and practices that the Churches of God and Protestant Christianity have today.
Pro-marriage people are accused of making divorce the only sin that can’t be forgiven. Pro-divorce people make adultery, mating with someone besides the original mate, the only sin you don’t have to repent of — to actually stop.
What does it mean to repent of a divorce?
To repent normally means that you stop doing whatever’s wrong.
What did the Israelites do when they repented of being married to pagan wives? They ended the marriages.
But all these Christians who have repented of their divorces —
What do they do differently?
They do not honor their original vow or covenant. They still stay with the same non-original mate. Nothing changes. They simply say they have repented of their divorce sin.
The wrong with divorce is the succeeding adultery; that is, continuing to mate with someone other than the original mate. To repent of a divorce means to stop living with someone besides your original mate. As long as you keep living with someone other than the one you divorced, there is no repentance. Nothing changes.
If a person is a practicing Sodomite, living with his homosexual partner, as many do today, and repents of that, what should he do?
The repentance of the pro-divorce teaching would have him go on as always, still living in the same forbidden relationship. What he needs to do, however, is stop the continuous breaking of the seventh commandment. That is repentance.
Christ said that anybody that marries a divorced woman commits adultery. So adultery, not divorce, is the real problem. You may separate from a mate and then live singly, as Paul said, and not be living in sin. But if you are married to a divorced person, a person with another living mate, you are continually living in adultery. To repent of that, you have to stop living in adultery.
The pro-divorce teaching makes adultery the only sin you don’t have to repent of. A divorcee repents of his divorce, while continuing to live in adultery.
Further, you will notice that it is not actually the divorce which is said to be washed away by the blood of Christ — It is the previous marriage which is being washed away.
It’s not the divorce that is forgiven. It’s the marriage that is forgiven.
Did Christ die to end marriages?
At marriage, a man and woman have taken a vow, to each other and to God Himself. Why would Christ want you to break a vow which you made before God? Would not Yahshua, the perfect Law-keeper, the Living Ten Commandments, want a follower of His at conversion to then keep his vow?
Would Christ the humble Law-keeper want you to go back and honor the covenant you have made?
Today it is easier to get out of a marriage than it is to get out of a used car contract. But God doesn’t end these marriages, because God doesn’t teach the breaking of vows. That breaks the ninth commandment. He teaches the keeping of vows. When you vow to make someone your mate, you are vowing that before God, and that vow lasts as long as both of you are alive.
When people say they have repented of the sin of divorce, it usually means nothing, because nothing changes. The parties continue to live in what Christ called adultery. The pro-divorce teaching makes adultery the only sin you don’t have to repent of.
If Christ had taken a physical wife, do you think He would have ever forsaken her, no matter what she did, after He had vowed to be her husband? If she committed adultery, would He go find another spouse, too? If she became an unbeliever, would He give up on her, or consider her the one lost of the hundred?
Christ would have been loyal and faithful to her, for all His physical life. If she asked to be forgiven, He would forgive up to seventy times seven times. If she did not, then He would look at her as the one lost who left the 99, and He would seek for her and wait for her. He would never give up on his wife, never forsake her no matter what, and He would never take another bride until physical death came to one of those two.
Christ did have a wife spiritually. The one who became the Messiah acted under the name of Yhwh in the Old Testament. He was symbolically married to Israel.
Was that a bum deal! Worse than any mate any of you ever married! Every kind of whoredom and idolatry — total adultery, perfect porneia — was practiced by his bride Israel whom he had plucked out of the trash dump of Egypt. He was so disgusted He even wrote her a bill of divorce, but then He said he was still married to her, (Jeremiah 3).
What’s more, He did not get remarried. Do you read in the Bible where Egypt became His wife? Or Assyria, or Babylon?
No. He took no other nation as His bride. Instead He went to his death without remarrying, because He already had a wife. It was she who killed Him. Hateful hussy!
After that death, the reborn Christ is now free to remarry. This time the bride will be spiritual Israel, the obedient ones.
Christ plainly said that any man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. He taught that marriage is for life. Perpetual fidelity, forgiveness forever, love without limit. One man, one woman, till death do them part. Perfection. But the farther along we go in human history, the more this law is broken. So many families have been torn apart, in society and among Christians, so many lives affected, that it is difficult to even discuss the subject. The law, however, is not the problem. Breaking the law is the problem. That is where the heartache and suffering have their cause. But in Christ, in His example of obedience and in His comfort, is where we have our remedy.
For forty years the Radio/Worldwide Church of God taught marriage for life. Now it has been nearly thirty years since they picked up the Protestant teaching that marriage is not for life. In the first 40 years, many were blessed by the church’s teachings. In the past 30 years, many have been cursed by the church’s teachings. Each of us now realizes we stand before God not as a corporation, but as an individual. This carries great responsibility, but it also gives great comfort. Yhwh gave His only Son for you, the individual. That Son took the whip lashes for you, the person. The pole with its human attachment was hoisted for you, the deceived sinner. And the sharp pointed spear poked in His side for you, the repentant, obedient believer.
If you have been trapped by Christianity’s anti-marriage teaching, and you have to bear the burden of that, there is someone standing beside you ready to help carry your pole. Your ultimate healing will not come from any earthly marriage, but from your spiritual wedding to Yahshua, Yhwh’s salvation, which He provided for you.
Matthew 19 — the exception that became the rule.
It is an amazing feat, testifying to the deceptive power of the human mind, that theologians take such a plain statement, repeated four times in the teachings of Christ, and then conclude exactly the opposite of what it says.
Mark 10:11 — “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, commits adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she commits adultery.”
Luke 16:18 — “Whosoever puts away his wife, and marries another, commits adultery: and whosoever marries her that is put away from her husband commits adultery.”
These statements are as plain as can be. But the pro-divorce teaching uses the “exception clause” in Matthew, which Mark and Luke did not even bother to include, to claim that Christ taught multiple mating. This clause is strongly used as a reason for supporting all the divorces among Christians today. There are several simple reasons why Christ was not advocating divorce and multiple mates with this “exception.”
1. Hillel or Shammai?
The Messiah was not like the Jews thought a good messiah should be. He worked at a common job, carpentry. He wasn’t good looking. He had a common name, Yahshua, the same as the man who led Israel after Moses died. He was not proud and pompous as a king normally is. And He did not think as the Jews thought.
The Messiah wasn’t like today’s Christians think He was, either. He wasn’t the wimpy little lord Jesus that you see hanging on walls, with long, girlish hair and a mucky look on his face. And He often taught just the opposite of what today’s Christians believe.
The religious Jews were always trying to trap Christ, trying to get Him to cross what they considered absolute truth. They had accused Him and His disciples of eating with sinners, not fasting, eating with dirty hands, and breaking the Sabbath. In all these cases, they had not understood His thinking.
Now, in Matthew 19, they had a new trap for Him — divorce.
“The Pharisees also came unto Him, tempting Him, and saying unto Him, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” (All quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the King James Version, with archaisms changed.)
The Jews disagreed among themselves about who could divorce and remarry. The followers of Hillel said a man could divorce his wife and be free to remarry for the flimsiest reasons.
“The following women may be divorced: She who violates the Law of Moses, e.g. causes her husband to eat food which has not been tithed... She who goes out on the street with her hair loose, or spins in the street, or converses with any man, or is a noisy woman. What is a noisy woman? It is one who speaks in her own house so loud that the neighbors may hear her,” (from the Jewish Mishna).
But the followers of Shammai thought that a man could divorce his wife only if she committed adultery. The husband was stuck with the loud talking and loose hair, but if she committed adultery — then he could dump her.
That’s just like the Christian teachings of today.
Most Protestant Christians believe that you can divorce for any reason you want. But some believe that you can divorce only if your mate commits adultery.
Isn’t it ironic that the Christians wound up in the exact same theological pickle as the Pharisees? To the human mind, these two are the only possibilities.
The Jews had argued over this for hundreds of years. The Christians have argued this for hundreds of years, too, mostly since the Protestant Reformation. But they all agree that at some point, a couple can divorce and remarry.
There was only one possibility they did not include.
Again the Pharisees’ question: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” NKJV.
Such as talking too loudly? Would Christ side with Shammai, or Hillel?
“And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more ,two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”
No divorce at all, Christ answered! Two people became one entity, not two, and one cannot be separated.
The religious Pharisees hadn’t even seriously considered the possibility of no divorce, because Moses had indeed written that a man could write a bill of divorce.
“When a man has taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes because he has 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,...,” Deuteronomy 24:1.
The Pharisees understood very clearly that Christ meant no divorce at all, so they asked Him why Moses had said that.
“They said to Him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?”
He said to them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication (porneia), and shall marry another, commits adultery (moicheia); and whoso marries her which is put away does commit adultery.”
Now Christ’s own disciples were astonished. Christ had not said that you could divorce a wife for loose hair or talking too loudly. Nor had He agreed that you could divorce your wife for committing adultery, because that was hardhearted.
He had given a totally new teaching. Marriage for life, for better or for worse, loose hair or loud talking or adultery, till death do you part.
No divorce at all was more than even Christ’s disciples could comprehend!
They blurted out, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.”
Obviously some of these men were married to loud talkers.
The thought of having to stay with their wives, no matter what, weighed heavily on their minds. They knew that Christ was saying that you stayed with a wife for life, no matter what. And they figured it would be better not to get married at all than to face loose hair, loud talking, even adultery, and still have to love that wicked woman.
From now on, every time they looked their wives in the face, they would realize, “Oh, God — this is it!”
We have to appreciate just how awful humans can be. Ministers who can be reprobates, friends who can be treacherous, relatives who can be unfathomable. And a mate who can at times be detestable.
Surprisingly, your mate has to face the same thing — a self-loving, ugly mortal.
The Ten Commandment stones were carved only by the finger of Yhwh — twice. These holy statements could not be defiled by man’s carving. The whole stones at the entering of Canaan had never before been carved on by man. The tomb that Christ was placed in had never held the body of a sinful, stinking human.
And the Father, when His only Son was on the stake, withdrew from Him, even though the Son was perfectly clean, except that He carried on His shoulders our dirtiness.
In a marriage, each mate has to accept that the other is a vile human being. Then try to help them overcome that, and never forsake them.
Never forsake them.
This concept of love without limit astonished the disciples’ carnal minds.
“But He said to them, “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it has been given; For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
Some would have to live single, or be a eunuch, without the physical joining to a mate. That is, some who had been married and then split from their mates would not be able to be remarried.
In this episode, which Jewish teacher did Yahshua side with:
Hillel: divorce for loose hair and loud talking?
or Shammai: divorce for adultery?
Which Christian view did He side with?
Divorce for any reason at all?
Or divorce only for adultery?
If Christ had taught that you can divorce and remarry for any reason, the Hillel people would have laughed with glee, the disciples would have felt no anxiety whatsoever, and they would have told their wives to shut up and put up; that is, to cut out the loud talking and to get their hair under control.
If Christ had taught that you can divorce and remarry only when the mate commits adultery, the Shammai people would have gloated, “Told you so! Yada, yada, yada!” And the disciples would not have been amazed at all, because that’s probably what they already believed. There would have been no painful talk about having to be a eunuch for the kingdom of God.
In the incident cited by Matthew, Christ gave a new teaching, and everyone there, the Pharisees and the disciples, knew it. Everyone there believed in marriage from wife to wife, and He spoke of marriage for life. This was not the thinking of Hillel. This was not the thinking of Shammai. This was the thinking of God.
2. Christ Introduced A New Way of Thinking
Matthew 5 also includes the “exception clause.” In this sermon on the mount, Christ magnified the law, as Isaiah had prophesied. “He will magnify the law, and make it honorable,” Isaiah 42:21.
He introduced a whole new way of thinking.
He magnified not killing into not even hating.
“You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not kill... But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”
He magnified not committing adultery into not even lusting.
“You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
He magnified love your neighbor into love your enemies.
“You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
And He magnified giving your wife a bill of divorce into giving her a lifetime of love. He specifically mentioned divorce here precisely because He was introducing a new way of thinking about marriage.
“It has been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement. But I say to you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery.”
Remember what the Jews already taught on marriage: divorce for any reason, or divorce only for adultery. Christ introduced the new thinking on marriage: no divorce at all. If you divorce and remarry, you are committing adultery.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ contrasted the natural mind with the spiritual mind. All these things that He taught are extremely unnatural for the human mind. Not lusting; loving those that persecute you; committing to a marriage for life, no matter what: this thinking is the opposite of the normal human mind.
That’s why the Jews and Pharisees of 2,000 years ago and the Christians of today wound up with the same teachings on marriage. They used the same human reason, and that human reason concludes it’s much too hard to be committed to one mate for life, no matter what, so it must not be so.
It is impossible for the desperately wicked human spirit on its own to think as Christ taught. Ben Franklin laid out all his principles for good character, then brought his illegitimate son home for his wife to raise. Origen castrated himself to try to keep sexual lust out of his mind. And that probably did work. But it cannot be overstated how hard these spiritual things are for us.
If someone slaps you on the face, it is humanly nearly impossible not to slap him back.
Attending a church service where ladies wear skirts up to their thighs and underwear that is nipple friendly makes it difficult not to lust.
And being committed to a mate for life, till death do you part, is enormously difficult for the human mind to accept.
That’s why Christ included it in the magnified law. He wants us to treat our mates the same way He treats us. When we fall, He’s always still there.
The human mind being what it is, though, theology is able to take the most direct, plain statements of Christ on marriage, and then conclude that Christ taught the same thing the Jews taught all along.
How could He possibly have made it any plainer? You simply can’t say it any plainer than He said it.
“Whosoever puts away his wife, and marries another, commits adultery: and whosoever marries her that is put away from her husband commits adultery.”
Protestant theology, however, comes up with the same teachings that Christ had to magnify. They ignore the whole context of His teaching, they ignore His plain, straight statements, they concentrate on the selected meanings of one word in one book, and conclude that He was teaching what the Jews were teaching, after all. Divorce and remarry whenever you really think you need to.
But He wasn’t. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ was teaching a whole new way of thinking: on killing, on adultery, on marriage. The spiritual mind contrasted with the natural mind. They already had the teaching of multiple mates. Christ’s new, magnified teaching was to have only one mate for life.
3. In the Beginning
In Matthew 19 Christ began His answer to the Pharisees by going back to the original principle of marriage.
“And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh?”
How was it at the beginning?
There was Adam, and there was Eve, and that was it.
One of the great principles of the Bible is the restoration of all things before sin entered the world. From the beginning of creation, God intended for one man to have one woman for one life. That is the loving, unselfish way.
This was perverted into one person taking more than one mate, either all at once or one at a time.
For the believer in Christ, we must go back to the original perfect principle, and not the practice given to hard-hearted Israel. That original principle was one for one, when a man would cleave to his wife, as Adam did to Eve, for over 900 years. That’s the way it was in the beginning. And that’s the principle Christ went back to.
In reality, serial marriages and open adultery are the same thing physically. There is no practical difference, only a paper difference. If a man “marries” one woman for five years, then another for five years, then another; or if he simply lives with one woman until he gets tired of her, then lives with another for a while, then another —
There is no real difference in the two approaches. Only a paper difference, where some governmental body issues a license saying that two people are “married,” until they decide not to be “married” any more, when the governmental body issues a piece of paper that says they are not “married” any more. This government paperwork has more to do with property than it does with two people’s commitment to one another.
Many people nowadays are doing away with this governmental paperwork altogether. They live with one person awhile, then they live with another, and so on. And there is no physical difference between that practice and multiple marriages; only a paper difference for property rights. Sometimes these people who live together get officially “married” after a while, but then 80% of those who had lived together get divorced. So the “marriage” was hardly different than just living together. Just paper, for property.
This type of marriage is morally meaningless. It will continue only as long as the parties want it to. Thus it is no better morally than a live-together arrangement.
If marriage does not mean mated for life, then it has no real meaning at all. It’s just living together for a while.
We have some neighbors who have each, both man and woman, divorced their original mates. These two then lived together for years, but without officially getting married, because she was getting child support from her original husband. Had they not been able to get along during this time, one would simply have moved out, and that would have ended the arrangement. After the children were gone, they then were officially married. That is to say, they got a piece of paper which gave legal standing to what they had been doing all along. But now that they are married, if at some point they are not able to get along, they will officially separate and divorce, and one will move out, just as they did with their original mates.
So what’s the difference between their live-in arrangement and their marriage?
Nothing. Only paperwork. For property considerations.
Most Protestant churches would say these two were committing adultery at first, when they were living together without a marriage certificate, but then came within God’s law by marrying. But the only real difference in the two situations is the paper. In both cases they will stay together only as long as they choose to.
Some Christians are now just living together without the paperwork of a marriage certificate, since it is meaningless if it doesn’t mean a life covenant. This is still condemned by the churches, but there is no practical difference between living together for a while and moving out, and the common Christian practice of marry and divorce, marry and divorce.
If marriage doesn’t mean one mate for life, then it has no real meaning at all. Marriage with limits is the same as no marriage at all — just living together.
That’s why Yahshua corrected the old covenant practice. If a man lived with one woman in open adultery, then tried another, and then another, that was no different than marrying one wife, giving her a bill of divorce, marrying another, giving her a bill of divorce, and marrying still another. God had them go through the formality of marrying and divorcing to point out the sanctity of marriage. But just as sacrifices did not erase sin, so this permitting of divorce and remarriage did not uphold the principle of marriage.
Christ renewed the principle of marriage as it was in the beginning. One man, one woman, one life together.
4. One Flesh
“And they two shall be one flesh,” Christ taught.
What did He mean by one flesh? One at a time? Or one for all time, as long as the human life continues?
In the New Testament, there are no cases at all of believers being divorced and remarried. Never a listing of the first and second and third wives of believers. This, in spite of divorce being practiced in the society around them. Instead, because of this practice around them, there are the strongest admonitions against taking more than one mate.
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife,” I Timothy 3:2.
“Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife,” I Timothy 3:12.
“Let not a widow be taken into the number under sixty years old, having been the wife of one man,” I Timothy 4:9.
“...ordain elders in every city... if any be blameless, the husband of one wife,” Titus 1:5, 6.
These verses are not talking only about polygamy, because they apply to both men and women. They are warning against the divorce and remarriage practices around them.
I heard one minister who had taken a second wife himself add “one wife at a time” when he read one of the preceding verses. It is conspicuous that Paul, for all his complicated, encompassing style of writing, did not write it that way. The minister himself had to add those few little words to scripture.
“A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife at a time,” he read it.
Is “ one at a time” God’s principle? Wives without limit, as long as you only have one at a time? Is that what Christ meant by “one flesh” — Just one at a time?
This can’t be what God means, because physically — anatomically — it is impossible for a man to be joined with more than one woman at a time, anyway. Solomon had a thousand women, but physically he could never have joined with more than one at a time, and by the time he got to number 999, even that might have been a little difficult for him.
If one flesh meant only one at a time, then open adulterers would be following that, as long as they joined to only one at a time, which is the usual mode for adultery.
Marriage is not merely a property contract between two beings. Marriage is not merely a partnership between two beings. Marriage is the union of two beings into one entity — one flesh. They are joined for life: one female, one male, making one complete entity before God. They are made to go together, physically and psychologically.
Adultery breaks this principle of one flesh, the governing principle of marriage. Two becoming one before God.
Many Christian churches today encourage their young people to remain virgin until marriage, to be chaste in a sea of sexual sin, to save themselves for that one special person. But then the churches don’t teach these people to be true to that person for life. So why save yourself for that special one at marriage — and then have more than one after marriage?
One flesh means two people mate and they are joined for life. That is the principle. Stay virgin until marriage. Mate at marriage and mate with only that one as long as that one is alive. Not one at a time. One for all time, as long as the human life continues.
5. Christ would not have said adultery...adultery.
Why did the Bible use two different words in the “exception clause”? Because they mean two different things.
“And I say to you. Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication (porneia) and shall marry another, commits adultery (moicheia); and whoso marries her which is put away does commit adultery (moicheia).”
The Greek word moicheia means specifically adultery, while porneia includes all possibilities of sexual deviance. However, it is obvious that not all possible meanings of porneia are included in each occurrence of the word. It may only refer to one type of porneia.
For example, in John 8:41, the Jews said to Christ, “We be not born of fornication (porneia); we have one Father, even God.”
In this instance, the word porneia in the Greek New Testament is obviously not meant to include sodomy or bestiality or even adultery. The Jews were saying that Yahshua was born from fornication, since Mary got pregnant before she was officially married. They probably weren’t speaking Greek, but when God recorded this for us in the Greek New Testament, He used porneia. Here the word porneia, even though it can mean any kind of sex sin, only refers to fornication.
In the King James New Testament, the English word fornication is always translated from some form of the word porneia. When Yhwh wanted to say fornication in the Greek New Testament, porneia is the word He used. When the book of Matthew used the word porneia in the “exception clause,” it had to mean only fornication, just as the verse in John 8.
First, if all possible meanings of porneia were included, then Christ would have been agreeing with Shammai that adultery breaks a marriage. Remember that’s what they already believed. There would have been no need to even continue the discussion after that. Christ would have said, “You’re right, Shammy,” and He would not have expanded further.
Second, if all meanings of porneia were included, then even pornography would end a marriage. Christ said that “whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” The English word pornography is directly derived from porneia, so if all possible meanings of porneia can break a marriage, then lusting after another woman, even with pornography, will dissolve a marriage. No one suggests that watching an everyday TV sitcom or looking at a porn picture ends a marriage.
So the pro-divorce teaching, then, does not include all the meanings of porneia, either. That teaching uses only selected meanings of porneia.
Third, the “exception clause” uses two different words because it means two different things. Moicheia is sex sin after marriage. This is contrasted with six sin before marriage, for which porneia is used. It is nonsense to read it as “whoever shall put away his wife, except for the cause of adultery, causes her to commit adultery,” which is a logical impossibility. For the passage to have any logic, it must read “whoever shall put away his wife, except for the cause of sex sin before marriage, causes her to commit sex sin after marriage.”
Matthew is the only writer to include this exception. Mark and Luke did not even include it in their records of Christ’s teaching on marriage. Paul did not include it when he quoted Christ on the marriage law. This exception is based on the principle in Deuteronomy 22, establishing that a person who thinks he is getting a virgin at marriage, and finds out that is not so, has been defrauded. Matthew is also the only one to mention that Joseph was going to put away his betrothed wife Mary when he found that she was pregnant, which would fit the principle of the exception that Matthew included. Matthew wrote of Joseph being minded to put Mary away privately, and he also later included the exception clause, the grounds on which Joseph was minded to act.
If this porneia exception included all sorts of sex sins after marriage, then surely Mark and Luke would have included it in their writings, because all marriages would be potentially affected by such a significant factor. On the other hand, the number of marriages which involved outright fraud before the marriage would be relatively small, and therefore not a great oversight to omit such an exception, as they did.
It bears repeating that in spite of the repeated strong statements of Christ that anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery, the pro-divorce teaching ignores these, concentrates on their selected meanings of one word, porneia, and then says that anyone who marries a divorced woman does not commit adultery. This completely contradicts Christ’s plain statements, and ignores the whole context of the discussion with the Jews.
6. Where Is the Adulterous Marriage?
If porneia breaks a marriage, then you wouldn’t be committing adultery by marrying a divorced woman.
The first time that adultery is committed by the divorced party, the previous marriage would be torn asunder. So you could not be committing adultery by staying married to the divorced woman, because all previous marriages would be broken.
This means there could never be a situation as Christ described, where a person commits adultery by marrying a divorced person. If porneia breaks a marriage, then what Christ described is not possible.
The only way it is possible to commit adultery by being married to a divorced woman is if adultery does not break a marriage. The man that marries a divorced woman is committing adultery, only because the original marriage is still valid. A couple’s sexual sins after marriage do not conveniently end the marriage, which is what a sexual sinner often desires, anyway.
Where are the cases in the churches today where a man is considered an adulterer because he married a divorced woman? Over and over we see the divorces, and then the second or third marriages, but their original marriages are always considered ended. You never see the case Christ described.
Some Protestants have held that after adultery, the innocent party determines if the marriage is ended or not, and the guilty party is bound unless the innocent party frees him. But if adultery breaks a marriage, then it has to break it for both parties, not just for one. One party can’t be bound while the other is not bound.
Notice that once you get away from the simple teaching of Christ, how quickly the manmade rules become complicated and confusing.
“And I say to you. Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery; and whoso marries her which is put away does commit adultery.”
Who in the church today would be considered in this situation that Christ spoke of?
The exception of Matthew has to refer to a sex sin before marriage which annuls the marriage. Once the marriage is joined together by God, nothing humans can do can break it. That’s what a marriage is.
Christ did not agree with Hillel or Shammai. He introduced a magnified thinking on marriage, just as He did on lusting and hating. He went back to the original principle of the Garden of Eden — one man, one woman, one life. They became one flesh, joined for life. The passage only makes sense rendered as the King James did, whoever divorces his wife, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery. If adultery breaks a marriage, then you wouldn’t be committing adultery by being married to a divorced woman.
It is an amazing feat, testifying to the deceptive power of the human mind, that theologians take such a plain statement, repeated four times in the teachings of Christ, and then conclude exactly the opposite of what it says.
Mark 10:11 — “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, commits adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she commits adultery.”
Luke 16:18 — “Whosoever puts away his wife, and marries another, commits adultery: and whosoever marries her that is put away from her husband commits adultery.”
This is the overall law. The “exception” cannot nullify the law, or the law is no law. The law is marriage for life, and the “exception” is a defrauding sex sin before the marriage which makes the marriage null at the time of the marriage. There is nothing that can occur after the marriage that can put asunder what God has joined together.
Three times Paul stated strongly that marriage is for life, repeating what Christ Himself had taught.
In Romans 7, Paul’s subject is not marriage, but justification by works of the law or by faith in Christ. He uses the law of marriage until death to show that it took Christ’s death to free us from our sins under the law.
“Know you not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?
For the woman which has an husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
So then if, while her husband lives, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
Wherefore, my brethren, you also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit to God,” Romans 7:1-4.
This short lesson from Paul shows three things:
1. The whole basis of Paul’s analogy is that marriage is binding until death.
Paul used this example only because marriage is binding until death, showing that we need to die in Christ to free us from our sins. If marriage is not binding until death, there is no analogy.
2. This shows that adultery does not break a marriage.
The woman who marries another man while her husband is living is an adulteress only because her original marriage is still valid. If adultery broke a marriage, she would not be committing adultery by being married to another man. If adultery breaks a marriage, a woman would not be bound to her husband as long as he lives, but only until he committed adultery.
3. This law applies to everyone.
There is not one law for Worldwiders and another for Outsiders. “Now we know that what things soever the law says, it says to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God,” Romans 3:19. If there were exceptions to the marriage law of being bound until death, then there would be exceptions in Paul’s lesson about needing the death of Christ. There are no exceptions, no different groups. All need the death of Christ, and all marriages last until the death of one of the mates.
I Corinthians 7
The subject of I Corinthians 7 is whether or not a person should get married.
“Now concerning the things whereof you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband,” I Corinthians 7:1, 2.
This sets forth the principal of one man and one woman. Under the Old Covenant, men had more than one wife, either by polygamy or by divorce and remarriage, which is serial polygamy. But the New Covenant principal is one man, one woman, one life. There are absolutely no examples in the New Testament of believers having more than one mate, either by polygamy or by divorcing and remarrying.
Paul then tells the unmarried that it is good if they remain unmarried.
“I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn,” verses 8, 9.
Paul does not include the divorced here. He only talks to the unmarried and the widows. Why does he not include the single divorced people here when he says it is better to marry than to burn? Because they were never permitted to remarry, unless they became widowed.
We must note this point in reading Paul’s comments about marriage: Paul does not think it is necessary for a person to be married. He even thinks it is better to be single. Therefore, if someone were to be separated from a mate and not remarried, he would not consider that a curse but a blessing, allowing more time to concentrate on God. Pro-divorce teachers say that divorcees get healing from getting remarried. Paul never said that. If a person needed healing, that would come from God.
It is impossible for those who do not put God first to grasp this point. The natural mind feels that a person has to have another person at all times to be happy. They cannot match Paul’s thinking that it is better to be single and devote all your mind and energy to God, as he did.
But that’s what Paul said: “it is good for them if they remain even as I am,” NKJV.
He then talks to the married.
“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,” verses 10, 11.
Paul points out that he is quoting Christ directly. Like Mark and Luke, Paul does not include the “exception clause” from Matthew. This affirms that the exception mentioned there does not refer to something so common as adultery, which would put every marriage in potential jeopardy.
This life marriage principle applied to everyone, regardless of who you were married to. Both the disciples and the Pharisees understood that Christ was applying the marriage law to them all, in the teaching that Paul quoted. This is the same law Paul mentioned to the Romans. In I Corinthians, he purposely begins his instructions to the married by restating this foundation teaching of Christ: marriage is until death.
Paul also ends his discussion of marriage by repeating this basic principle, just to make sure they get the point.
“The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives: but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord,” verse 39.
Paul starts and ends his discussion of marriage by reminding them that marriage is for life. In so doing, he is careful to establish a boundary for everything that he says about marriage. Everything he says about marriage must be understood to fit within this law. When considering whether or not to be married, he cautions them to remember that marriage is for life. Stay with your mate or stay single. Nothing he says can contradict this law.
Paul is talking mainly about whether to get married or stay single. But he is quite careful to point out that if you do get married, you are married for life.
After establishing this basic principle, Paul talks to those who are married to unbelievers.
“But to the rest speak I, not the Lord,” verse 12.
When this letter was included in the compilation of New Testament writings, this was no longer just Paul’s opinion. It is God’s opinion. But at the time of Paul’s writing, he thought he was just giving his opinion on the subject of being married or single. The law of God does not cover whether you should be married or single. That’s a matter of choice.
Paul quoted Christ Himself on the marriage law. After stating the law, Paul gave his advice on matters of personal preference.
“If any brother has a wife that believes not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which has an husband that believes not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him... But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God has called us to peace,” verse 12, 13, 15.
A New Exception?
Common Christian Protestant theology says that Paul was now coming up with a new way to break a marriage, when he said “a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases.” They maintain that instead of Paul simply saying that the mate was not obligated to follow the departing spouse, he was declaring that once the mate left, the marriage was no longer bound.
That would be an astounding thing for Paul to do.
First of all, he would be directly contradicting the teaching of Christ which he is so careful to include: “a wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife,” verse 10, 11. And: “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the lord,” verse 39, NKJV.
If an unbeliever departing breaks a marriage, as Protestant theology teaches, then a woman is not bound to her husband until death — only until he or she leaves. Christ’s statement, and Paul’s quoting, that marriage is until the death of the mate would be completely false. They both cannot be true. If you are married until death, then that marriage cannot be broken by either mate walking off. If a marriage can be ended by a mate leaving, then that marriage is not until death.
Secondly, Paul certainly didn’t think he was giving a new marriage shattering teaching. He was simply giving his opinion on the subject of whether or not a person should have a mate, as opposed to the law of God on marriage, which he had just cited.
What Christ said was law: marriage is until death. What Paul was saying was opinion: a person is better off single than married. That’s not law, just personal choice.
Although almost all of non-Catholic Christianity today believes in the easy escape from marriage, this is not what the early church believed at all. At some point they disagreed on the Sabbath, on the holy days, on the nature of God, and just about everything else — but it was several hundred years before any who professed to be Christian even brought up the possibility of marrying more than one mate. Still later, the eastern church allowed divorce and remarriage. Then, after about another millennium, the practice was adopted by the Protestants.
All early Christians, of all possible varieties, agreed that a Christian never, never divorced his wife and married another. There is no doubt that this is what the New Testament church practiced, because everyone agreed on that.
The Roman Catholic Church, the largest group of those who call themselves Christian, still officially accepts this teaching, although they have always been adroit at avoiding inconvenient theological positions by belated annulments and such maneuvers.
The rest of Christianity has developed mirage marriages. By common Christian theology a marriage can be ended by one of the parties committing adultery; or the marriage can be ended if one of the parties just leaves and walks off.
This is the absolute opposite of being married until death. People can tear asunder their marriages whenever they want to.
Which is exactly what they do under this Christian teaching. They commit adultery or become an unbeliever, bust up their marriage and get remarried, then repent and resit in their Christian congregations.
That’s why Christians under this teaching are the leaders in divorce. And what they do perfectly fits their Christian doctrine, part of which they claim to get from Paul.
Till Departing Do Us Part
To believe that an unbeliever departing breaks a marriage completely contradicts the statement that Paul made three times that marriage is for life. This is an enormous exception. Want to end your marriage in God’s sight? Just walk off. This factor, if it were so, is so huge that it would have to be mentioned every time that guidelines for marriage are given, because it is the opposite of marriage for life. That is not till death do us part. It is marriage until departing do us part.
A marriage cannot be considered married until death if it can be broken by an unbeliever departing. All marriages would be subject to this possibility, not just those who are presently married to an unbeliever, because at any time anyone can become an unbeliever. Under this Christian theology, no marriage is ever bound until death.
This makes it even easier to break a marriage than by committing porneia. All you have to do is walk off. If you’re disobeying the teaching to stay with your mate, you’re probably an unbeliever to the other mate. Just get up, get out, and goodbye, Gertrude.
Actually, instead of giving a new way to tear marriage asunder, Paul repeatedly gives the strongest guidelines for being married to only one person.
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife,” I Timothy 3:2.
“Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife,” I Timothy 3:12.
“Let not a widow be taken into the number under sixty years old, having been the wife of one man,” I Timothy 4:9.
“...ordain elders in every city... if any be blameless, the husband of one wife,” Titus 1:5, 6.
Obviously, for Paul to give all these warnings, that society had a problem with people being married to more than one mate. Paul, instead of giving new ways to break a marriage, was extremely careful to adhere to Christ’s teaching, not even letting a widow in their number unless she had been in the past the wife of only one man.
With absolutely no examples in the New Testament of multiple mates, with the strong guidelines about having only one mate, with the repeated statements of Paul that marriage is until death, the phrase in I Corinthians 7 — “a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases” — has to mean not obligated to follow the hostile departing mate. The unbelieving mate would obviously be leaving because of some form of bitterness, probably having to do with the Christian belief. To pursue them in that condition would not lead to peace.
Doubtless there were many first century Christians who were married to unbelievers. No doubt there were many Christians who later became unbelievers because of persecution or deception. There were many who continued to use the name Christian, but mostly forsook Christ’s teachings: Christian unbelievers. But there is never the slightest hint that any New Testament believer was ever married to more than one living person.
Some say that Paul was referring to two laws for marriage: one for believers, and another for unbelievers. Believers’ marriages are bound unto death, they teach, while one married to an unbeliever has a marriage that is only bound until the unbeliever departs.
This means that no marriages are really bound at all, because at any time a believer can become an unbeliever, and then become a believer again.
And who’s to say who is a believer and who isn’t?
People often think that if a person holds a certain doctrine, that makes him a believer. For example, Seventh Day Adventists might say that keeping the Sabbath marks a believer. But in World War II, almost all of the German SDA’s supported Adolf Hitler, killing in his cause. Hitler said if they didn’t support him, he would get them. God said He would protect them. So they believed Adolf more than God, and served Adolf. They weren’t believers in God at all. They were just Sabbath-keepers.
Old WCG people often used the phrase “before I came to a knowledge of the truth.” When asked what truth, they would usually answer, “the Sabbath, the holy days, and not eating pork,” some doctrines of the church at that time. When they were asked what they believed about something specific, they would almost invariably give the official position of their church. Maybe even offer a helpful booklet. But when the church changed its official doctrines, their truth changed. Therefore most of these people, who once mused arrogantly about unbelievers departing, were shown to be unbelievers themselves. They did not believe in Yhwh God, the same yesterday, today, and forever, with eternal truths which last through the ages. They believed in that particular church, — never the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, always changing from decade to decade.
To determine exactly who is an unbeliever is sometimes impossible for humans to judge. That is why Christ is the judge. There are doubtless cases where mates divorce and each person considers the other the unbeliever. Maybe they’re both right. Maybe neither is right. What a tenuous basis for tearing asunder a marriage, that which God Himself has joined together.
The concept of two laws for two different groups of people is ludicrous when applied broadly. When the heathen Canaanites burned their children, was that not sin? When the Gentile Herod stole his brother’s wife, was that not sin? When Adolf Hitler gassed the Jews, was that not sin?
Yes, yes, yes. That’s what makes law law. It’s an overriding principle that applies everywhere.
The idea of two laws for two different sets of people, that one group has marriage for life while another doesn’t, kicks at the sacrifice of the Messiah. Referring to the analogy Paul used in Romans 7, if the marriage law is not binding on everyone, then by extension of Paul’s analogy, not everyone needs the death of Christ. If all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, then the same law applies to everyone, all need the death of Christ, and all are under the marriage law that Christ taught.
Law Is Law
A law that says that marriage is until death, unless you decide to commit adultery or go somewhere else, is not God’s law. God is not like that. Humans are. Laws with loopholes. God doesn’t think like that. People do. The carnal mind is enmity against God, is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be — so it comes up with a law with loopholes. Which is really no law at all. Protestant Christianity really has no marriage law.
Law is law. If a marriage is joined by God, there is nothing a human can do to undo what God has done. Just because a person becomes an unbeliever does not change the law. His activities do not affect the law. They only affect his status under the law. There are not two types of marriages, one for believers and another for unbelievers, or one for Worldwiders and another for Outsiders.
Paul was certainly not coming up with a brand new way to break a marriage before death. He was not contradicting Christ, whom He had just quoted. He was not contradicting himself, when he pointed out three times that marriage is until death.
He was simply saying that if an unbeliever departed with hostility, the Christian mate was not bound to try to follow them. Since the person was hostile to these radical new Christian beliefs, that would not be the way of peace.
“but God has called us to peace.”
When the unbeliever departed, the believer could choose to live singly, which after all, was the better way. The individual would still be under the law of marriage, though: “But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried: or be reconciled to her husband.”
Paul continues in verse 25: “Now concerning virgins...
Or in the Revised Standard Version, “Now concerning the unmarried...”
Everything that Paul says from verse 25 through verse 40 is to the unmarried — whether they should get married or stay single. This is the context. He is not talking to anybody who is married or divorced. He is talking to virgins, male and female, about whether or not they should get married.
“Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that has obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.”
Note how Paul distinguishes between matters of the law of marriage, which he received from the Lord, and matters of personal preference, whether or not to be married at all. Paul is giving his judgment as to whether a person should be single or married.
“I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.” Or “it is good for a man to remain as he is,” NKJV.
Paul is speaking to “virgins,” which is shown to apply to both women and men, when Paul says that “it is good for a man to remain as he is.” Therefore when Paul says in verse 27, “Are you bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife.” — He is not talking about someone who is divorced, having somehow had a marriage joined by God put asunder before death. He is talking about a virgin man. Someone who is wifeless — never married.
Then in verse 28 he includes the unmarried woman. “But and if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.” He points out that if these unmarried people marry, they will have trouble in the flesh.
Again the whole context here is that he is talking to virgins, male and female, and warning them that they are better off not getting married.
The pro-divorce teaching maintains that Paul was talking to divorced people who had come from broken marriages, and that he was telling them that if they remarried, they did not sin. However, it is totally out of context to insist that Paul is here instructing an unmarried maid and a married man. This whole section is talking to the unmarried, not the married.
This is further shown by the succeeding statements.
through verse 40, NKJV — “Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh,, but I would spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.
But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things that belong to the Lord — how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world — how he may please his wife.”
Notice how Paul here switches back and forth, including an unmarried man in the previous sentence, and an unmarried woman in the next.
“There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world — how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction. But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of her youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes; he does not sin; let them marry. Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.
This is all comparing being single to being married. Notice especially that his advice on being single or married does not end until verse 40.
(verse 39) A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. (40) But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment — and I think I also have the spirit of God.”
Therefore, his admonition in verse 39, “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the lord,” has to apply to these people to whom he is talking is verses 27-28. He could not be referring to a divorced person remarrying in verses 27 and 28, because that would contradict what he says to them in verse 39.
Again — Paul is still talking to these same single people through verse 40, so the marriage for life law he cites in verse 39 has to apply to all these people. When he told them in verse 28 that if they married, they would not sin, these were people who had never been married — virgins. But he reminds these single people that if they chose to get married, then they would be under the law of marriage, bound until death.
The standard Protestant teaching quite ignores the whole sensible context of this section, focuses on a selected meaning of one Greek word, and concludes that Paul was saying exactly the opposite of what he clearly stated. Paul did not go above his Master the Messiah and give Pauline ways to break a marriage. How would he dare do that? On the contrary, he was always careful to establish what the Lord had said as law — that marriage was for life.
Three times Paul states that marriage is until the death of the mate. His analogy in Romans 7 of our being dead to the law is only valid if marriage is until death. In I Corinthians 7, he is discussing whether or not unmarried people should get married, and he is not giving any methods for breaking a marriage. On the contrary, he is careful to remind them all, at the beginning and end of the discourse, that marriage is until death.
Here is one of the extremely great lessons that God wants to teach us —
When we repent and return, He is always there, waiting to welcome us.
Look at this lesson, just in the minor prophets of Israel, from the New King James Version.
From the book of Hosea:
“Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry, and children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from Yhwh. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. Then Yhwh said to him: Call his name Jezreel, for in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu and bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel...
“And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: Call her name Lo-Ruhamah (no mercy), for I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel. But I will utterly take them away...
“Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. Then God said: Call his name Lo-Ammi (not my people), for you are not my people, and I will not be your God,” Hosea 1:2-9.
This was a bitter treatment for Israel. The name Lo-Rehumah means “no mercy,” and the name Lo-Ammi means “not my people,” for at this time Yhwh was not showing mercy to Israel because of their unrepentant sins, and He cast them off.
But, at the same time, He was waiting for them to come back to Him.
“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy... And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, You are My people! And they shall say, You are my God!” Hosea 2:19, 23.
This is the lesson of the book: Israel sinned, God brought their sin before them, Israel repents, and Yhwh is there waiting to embrace them on their return.
In chapter 3 of Hosea, his wife Gomer the harlot had gone back to harlotry, just as Israel had done.
“Then Yhwh said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of Yhwh for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans,” verse 1.
Despite the fact that his wife was committing harlotry — big time porneia — Hosea did not forsake her. This pictures Yhwh not forsaking His people when they sin.
“So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley.”
Hosea paid a homer for Gomer, to redeem his harlot wife from the slave market, apparently. Just as God will redeem his whorish people.
“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return, seek Yhwh their God and David their king, and fear Yhwh and His goodness in the latter days,” verses 4, 5.
In the book of Amos, we see that although there is a period of sin and separation, God never permanently rejects Israel.
“Though they dig into hell, from there My hand shall take them... From there I will command the sword, and it shall slay them. I will set My eyes on them for harm and not for good,” Amos 9:2, 4.
But God’s mercy never forsakes them. He is always looking forward to the time that He takes them back.
“Behold, the eyes of Yhwh God are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth; yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, says Yhwh... For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground... I will bring back the captives of My people Israel.. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them, says Yhwh your God,” Amos 9:9, 14, 15.
And in the writings of Micah:
“For behold, Yhwh is coming out of His place; He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him, and the valleys will split like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. All this is for the transgressions of Jacob, and for the sins of the house of Israel,” Micah 1:3-5.
But eventually, repentance and mercy prevails.
“Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of our heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea,” Micah 7:18,19.
The same lesson is in Zechariah.
“Yhwh has been very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, Thus says Yhwh of hosts: Return to Me, says Yhwh of hosts, and I will return to you, says Yhwh of hosts,” Zechariah 1:2, 3.
And repeated in Malachi. Here we have the contrast between the human approach to faithfulness and mercy and God’s approach.
“Judah has dealt treacherously; and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, for Judah has profaned Yhwh’s holy institution which He loves; He has married the daughter of a foreign god,” Malachi 2:11.
This is Judah committing adultery and breaking the covenant she made with God.
Just as Judah broke the spiritual covenant, so Judah also personally broke their marriage covenants.
“You cover the altar of Yhwh with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with good will from your hands. Yet you say, For what reason? Because Yhwh has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion, and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the spirit? And why one: He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. For Yhwh God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence, says Yhwh of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously,” Malachi 2:13-16.
Unlike the human husbands of Judah who forsook their wives forever, Yhwh never totally forsakes those who are His.
“They shall be Mine, says Yhwh of hosts. On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him,” Malachi 3:17.
This lesson is emphasized strongly in the major prophet Jeremiah.
“They say, If a man divorces his wife, and she goes from him, and becomes another man’s, may he return to her again? Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return to Me, says Yhwh.
Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see: where have you not lain with men? By the road you have sat for them like an Arabian in the wilderness; and you have polluted the land with your harlotries and your wickedness...
Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. And I said, after she had done all these things, Return to Me. But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce,” Jeremiah 3:1-8.
Surely this hussy fit all the qualifications for getting rid of a wife. She committed adultery, not just incidentally, but as a hungry harlot. Pick a spot where you have not lain with men, God asked her. Further, if ever there was an unbeliever departing, she was it.
All theology would agree that this was a wife worthy of being divorced. And God did give her a certificate of divorce.
But He did not forever forsake her.
“Return, backsliding Israel, says Yhwh, and I will not cause My anger to fall on you; for I am merciful, says Yhwh, and I will not remain angry forever....Return, O backsliding children, says Yhwh, for I am married to you,” Jeremiah 3:12, 14.
This is the mind of God on divorce. This is what Christ expressed when He said, “Whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” You see — the problem here with Israel was that she was with someone other than her husband. Divorcing and remarrying did not cure that problem. That only continues the adultery. Being remarried to Baal or Ashtoreth only continues the problem. The way to cure the problem is for Israel to go back to her true husband, Yhwh.
Therefore, any man who “marries” a divorced woman is continuing the problem, which can be set right by going back to the true mate.
Over and over we see the principle that God never forsakes His people, even if they forsake Him, as an unbeliever departing or as an adulterer. He is always there waiting, looking for them to repent and come back to Him.
One of His names is Yhwh Shammah, which means Yhwh is there. And He always is.
The human doctrine of divorce is without unending mercy, just as Judah’s was. It covers the altar of Yhwh with tears, with weeping and crying, because it deals treacherously, not mercifully, with the wife of your youth.
This human doctrine says that a person is justified in forever leaving a life mate if certain things occur: unfaithfulness, or departing. In actual practice, even these things do not have to be met.
The human doctrine of divorce looks for a reason to forsake instead of a reason to forgive.
This is the human natural mind, but it is not the spiritual mind of Yhwh or Yahshua.
The marriage relationship is a parallel of our relationship with God.
In marriage we are covenanted with our mate. Likewise we are covenanted with God.
If we take the human doctrine of divorce as applied to the marriage covenant and apply that same approach to our covenant with God, its total ungodliness is quickly unmasked.
How many Christians have committed adultery? Either spiritual adultery, by forsaking God and Christ for the cares of the world; or physical adultery, where some have whored themselves by joining to another besides their mate?
With physical adultery, it is awfully surprising how many people who know better and have been taught the dangers of sexual sin have still yielded to the doggish cravings of their body. Younger people, older people, middle-aged people have sought strange flesh. Young wives with toddling children who became mistresses; respected elders who became dirty old men; middle-aged people who create a crisis, looking for something in life they had missed. All these types of Christians committed physical adultery, and so broke their covenant with God. Many of you are among these temporary harlots and dirty old men.
Once these Christian believers broke the covenant and committed porneia, did God forsake them forever and ever more?
How many Christians have committed spiritual adultery, where there were periods in our lives where we let other interests take the main thrust of our lives, the bulk of our time, the love of our heart? God was second or third or fourth, definitely not first. We courted the first love of our lives but little, and hardly talked to Him. We spurned His letters to us, His name hardly crossed our busy minds, and so for some extended time — days, or months, or maybe years — we brazenly broke the first commandment and forsook God.
In effect, we were as an unbeliever departing.
When we did this, was there never a chance to go back to the other party of our covenant?
Had God forever forsaken us? Could we never return to Him?
Thankfully, mercifully, wonderfully — these questions are sheer folly.
We know absolutely that when we committed adultery, and then repented, Christ was there with open arms, and embraced us and held us close to Him.
“Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
And we were to Him, not as a dirty whore, but clean and white as snow — because He had totally and completely forgiven us. He did not put us forever away. He was forever waiting for us to come back to Him.
When we departed as unbelievers because we had quit putting God first, He did not suddenly put us away, searching the fine print of our covenant for a legal escape. While we wandered through the fetish of corporate climbing, giddy with the lure of worldly wealth — and largely ignored the true love of our lives — He stayed there waiting. Spurned and burned, but still patient and loving, He waited for us to come back.
Some came back to His arms within a year of departing, only to leave again for a while the next year. Some came back only after a period of years, when the folly of youth learned by experience more of the real meaning of life. Some who have departed have not yet come back. But He is still there, and at any point that you decide to return and again live in the covenant, He will do His part.
When the unbeliever departed, God did not depart.
You repent, and He is still there, not only to take you back, but to take you back with no grudges, no dirt, no bad memories.
God is not at all like the human doctrine of divorce.
Therefore the human doctrine of divorce is not God’s doctrine. It is the doctrine of men, Jews and Christians and atheists and pagans.
The theological doctrine of divorce, with its pages of Bible exegesis and Greek etymology, is basically the same as the pagans and atheists hold. All these accept the doctrine of divorce, with brilliant analytical minds, well reasoned, detailed arguments about minutiae, but without the love and faithfulness of God.
When you make your covenant with God, and you break it, when you repent and come back to Him, you will be forgiven and taken back.
This is the new covenant.
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
Isn’t this more awesome than the farthest stretches of the universe?
The lesson of the prodigal son is that he left, but he could return. So, too, with the prodigal mate.
This is the difference between the natural mind of God and the natural mind of man.
This is the difference between the old covenant and the new. We can be forgiven.
The new covenant believer is to have the mind of Christ. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” We are not just to be on the receiving end of all this mercy and unending faithfulness. Because we receive it, we are to be filled with it ourselves.
When the mate of our marriage covenant commits adultery, there is to be no thought within us of forever forsaking that person to whom we have committed lifelong faithfulness. We do not look for reasons for removal. We look for repentance. Our arms never close and clasp selfishly around our own hearts. They are always open, ready to welcome back the prodigal mate.
If an unbeliever departs, don’t look to dump him. Look to deliver Him. We don’t calculate a legal time limit for loosing. We don’t seek the permission of corporate clergy to recovenant. We pray for the unbeliever who has departed. We remain faithful to the mate of our youth. If they return within the year, we remain faithful to them, as God does for us. If they wait for some years, and learn more of the meaning of life through experience before they return, then we wait for them, as God waits for us. If they wait a lifetime, then we remain faithful for that lifetime, always seeking for that lost one, as God always waits in the ready for us.
As God is to us, we must be to others. To the merciful He will show mercy.
The point that Christ made in the sermon on the mount, the greatest sermon never heard: when someone hits us, we do not hit them back, not just because Christ told us not to, but because we have so much feeling for that other person that we don’t want to hit them back. We cannot go to war and kill others, not because of a legal stipulation, but because we feel as much for those other soldiers as we do for ourselves, and we can no more think of killing them than we can think of killing ourselves. And — we cannot forsake the mate of our marriage, not just because of binding legal stipulations or theological arguments, but because we love that person with unending love.
For example: I once counseled with a young lady whose husband was beating her consistently. She was talking to me, a minister in a church which had adopted the human, lawyer like approach to marriage. So I, acting in a lawyerly way, told her that according to the fine points of the church’s teaching, she might not necessarily be bound to a marriage with a man who was beating her.
She looked me in the eye with a bit of astonishment.
“But I love him!”
She sought no legal loopholes. She wasn’t looking for a way out of her marriage. She was just looking for a way out of her beatings. Because she loved him that much.
Are we like this?
No, not naturally. God is like this. We are not.
When Christ was stuck on the stake, bleeding and beaten, mocked and humiliated and given sour wine for comfort —
All He could think of was ... “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
This was not just a pretty platitude. This was not just a Messianic saying, to be uttered because He was the Messiah. He was not just going through the motions to fulfill prophecy.
This is what He felt.
For those people who did Him every wrong, He felt just as much love for them as He did for Himself. He was bleeding, his sagging chest heaving to suck in air, and with that little air He had He sputtered , “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”
That is why what we are has to be replaced with what He is. This attitude, and only this, is what will become a spirit being. “Let this mind be in you, which was in the Messiah Yahshua.”
The unending love and mercy that cried out on the stake in behalf of those who had staked Him: “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” The Stakee crying for the stakers. This is the way we have to come to think.
Everything we are has to be replaced with that which God is.
We are to give the same mercy to our mate that God gives to us. When they do wrong — not if they do wrong, but when they do wrong — you try to help them back to the right. You don’t look for a reason to get rid of them.
Can you do this for your estranged mate? In some cases, one whom you haven’t even seen for years? With whom you no longer share common interests, who is completely un-Christian, doesn’t give a hoot about you, and would rather rot in prison than get back together with you? She who has wronged you so badly, hurt you so deeply —
But doesn’t God show you more mercy than that?
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all. Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat saying, Pay me what you owe!” Matthew 18:23-30.
Notice the enormous difference in the debts.
The evil servant was owed a hundred denarii, which is said to be a hundred days’ wages.
The evil servant himself owed ten thousand talents. One talent is said to have been 6,000 denarii, and the debt was 10,000 x 6,000 denarii, or 60,000,000 denarii.
The evil servant owed 60,000,000 days wages. He was quite a debtor! If a person has 5 work days a week, 50 weeks in a year, and 40 working years, that comes out to 10,000 working days in a lifetime.
This evil servant owed 6,000 lifetimes worth of debt!
Plus, the evil servant owed 600,000 times more than was owed to him!
This is you, spurned mate. You are truly owed a debt — 100 denarii. But your own shortcomings have indebted you — 600,000 times more than that, and more than you can ever repay.
Will you remain faithful to your true mate, until reconciled or until death? Will you always offer forgiveness to your only true spouse?
“So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay you all. And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.
So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?
And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses,” verses 29-35.
Can you have love and loyalty to your estranged mate? In some cases, one whom you haven’t even seen for years? With whom you share no common interests, who is completely un-Christian, and doesn’t give a hoot about you, and would rather rot in prison than get back together with you? She who has wronged you so badly, hurt you so deeply?
Perhaps your mate will be of such a mind that you will never reunite with her. But you must be faithful, always waiting as God waits for you, and always willing to forgive, as He is always willing to forgive you.
God, the other party in your spiritual covenant, will treat you as you treat the other party of your marriage covenant.
The natural mind says that we cannot today follow the teaching of Christ that marriage is for life, even if He did teach it. It’s just too hard, it insists. It is too difficult for those who have gotten divorced and remarried to live singly, and especially hard on women. There are too many families that have been shuffled and reshuffled. Furthermore, remember all the children. This is always the rallying cry of the anti-law liberals. Who can be against children? Janet Reno burned Waco because of the children.
This is the type of thinking that supports and feeds the divorce epidemic under which Christians suffer today. Emotion overrules the law of God. These people are more righteous and merciful than Christ Himself. They so feel for the children, except in all those cases where the Mom and Dad break up the original family and ruin the rest of their children’s lives.
People come up with pithy sounding sayings like, “You can’t unscramble scrambled eggs.”
But how about this pithy saying: “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”
The best thing is always to obey God. He is alive. He is real. He is working His plan out in the world today. He does bless those who obey Him, and curse those who don’t. Our feeble human minds often can’t determine where or when or how the blessing will come, but we can be confident that God is, and that He rewards those who obey Him.
There is a couple that live about 8 miles from us. They are widely known in the community, have a successful farm, and have been together for years and years. To all appearances, theirs is a very successful “marriage.”
Should Mike and Edward stay together?
No. Their doing so breaks the law of God, which says that one man shall marry one woman for life. No matter how successful their relationship appears to some humans, when compared to the law of God, it transgresses.
What about those families that have children, as in the days of Ezra? Numerous lesbians around the country are getting impregnated by someone other than their “partner,” since that is impossible, and these “families” have children they are raising. Should they stay “married” — because of the children?
No. Their doing so breaks the law of God, which says that one man shall marry one woman for life. No matter how successful their relationship appears to some humans, when compared to the law of God, it transgresses.
What about those divorced people who have remarried, had more children, and now have his, hers, and theirs? Should they stay married because of the children?
No, not if they have another mate, not as man and wife. Their doing so breaks the law of God, which says that one man shall marry one woman for life. No matter how successful their relationship appears to some humans, when compared to the law of God, it transgresses. A high percentage of these divorcees divorce again, anyway.
What about the terrible possibility that a divorced person would have to live the rest of his life alone; just him and God?
When we were college freshmen, some young fellows went through the college brochure of the freshman class, marking the pictures of the girls who were ultimate marriage possibilities, without ever telling these girls of their peculiar status. At the same time, these 18-year-old Christian boys seriously discussed the possibility that Christ might return before they were ever able to get married. Some even gingerly voiced the hope that Christ might delay His wedding with the church until after they had enjoyed their own weddings with one of the girls in the pictures.
Of course, this is short-sighted, inexperienced, unspiritual youth. How could a marriage to one of those immature young girls compare to meeting the Savior of the world in person, in the spirit, with ten thousands of thousands of angels close by, ready to transform you into an immortal spirit being? Yet that is what we grown up boys kind of preferred at the time. Christy over Christ.
Most people think that way, too, thinking primarily of the now, of the wants of the body, the short term desires of the self.
People who speak of the great suffering of those who choose to remain single do not have much appreciation for God. As Anna did.
Did Anna waste her life?
“And there was one Anna, a prophetess... She was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about 84 years which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day,” Luke 2:36-37.
Decade after decade she stayed in this one building, and her mind was only concentrating on serving God. She had been widowed after seven years of marriage. All the decades after that she had lived with Yhwh God.
“What a waste?” many might think. She could have done something with her life. Gotten remarried, raised a family, been a loving grandmother.
This woman had the most fulfilling life possible.
Man is a spirit being, in the sense that he has been given a spirit mind to reason, unlike all the other creatures in the physical creation. At our death, this spirit goes back to Him who gave it. But of itself, our spirits are always incomplete, restless, unfulfilled unless combined with God’s spirit, which completes us.
The more we combine with God’s spirit, the more fulfilled we are. Nothing else gives that fulfillment.
Man creates religions, with icons and robes and dark, musty cathedrals, vainly trying to try to fill this need. People climb mountains, sail oceans, sit with their legs crossed for hours until their minds and behinds are numb, all futilely trying to find fulfillment. People become great athletes, build huge houses, drive cool cars, and climb the corporate ladder, all trying to add meaning to their lives.
But none of these human efforts fill the great hole in our soul. People are still incomplete and unsatisfied.
Even the wonderful blessings of spouse and family by themselves still leave our spirits unfulfilled, searching and seeking.
But Anna’s life was complete. Her spirit was joined closely with her Creator’s.
The very greatest joy we can have in human life is to be combined with that Father spirit, the completion of our own dissatisfied spirits. This joy is greater than anything physical, because it is on a totally different level. Physically, people may take joy in self-exaltation, such as victory in sports or war; or in self-gratification, such as eating and drinking, sex, and physical accumulation. But these are all short-term experiences, always requiring something new to happen, and with each experience the joy itself becomes less, like the rush of an addicting drug which inevitably declines with use.
The experience of life is like this. The older we get, the more we have seen, and the less that is new. We have done this and that, gone here and there, worn skinny ties and wide ties, crew cut hair and collar length hair and no hair on top, peg legs and flare legs — So what difference does all that make a thousand years from now?
The joining of our spirits with the great Father spirit is a growing experience, that doesn’t lessen with time and exposure, but grows stronger and more fulfilling the more we seek it. This experience is on a totally different level than eating a steak, owning a car, or even sharing sexual love with a beloved mate. It is closer, more important, and completely more fulfilling. There is nothing in life like it. There is nothing else that can take its place. There is nothing else in life that can give that fulfillment.
And that was Anna. She had four stone walls, a little food, and Yhwh God, the Great Spirit which made her spirit complete. She needed nothing else. She was full of the love of God, and for God.
This woman, along with Simeon, was given the special privilege by Yhwh God Almighty of visiting His precious newborn little boy. You know how when a family has a new baby, all the people that are close to them get the privilege of visiting the family, and seeing the cuddly new child, the little life that is so precious to the parents.
That’s what God did with old Anna. He made a special point to show her His new little kid. What a great life she had!
She deliberately chose not to remarry, and gave her time to praising God in the temple. She didn’t need a husband. She had God.
What husband can compare with that?
All the space in her life was filled with the spirit of God. This is what Paul meant when he said it is better to be single than to be married. Almost no Christians can accept and understand that statement of Paul’s, because they cannot remotely comprehend what it means to be so close to God that you don’t need anything else, as Paul was. So close to God that you don’t need wealth, you don’t need fame, you don’t need a bureaucratic church organization, you don’t need a husband or a wife — You have God, and if He is with you, you don’t need anything else.
With God, you can be content — happy and fulfilled — in whatever state you find yourself.
God wants us to obey Him, and when He gives us occasions to show our love for Him, these are the greatest opportunities in our lives.
People often think that when we have a time of difficulty, God should remove the difficulty and make it easy for us to obey. Convenient obedience.
The biggest change in the church of God is that the attitude of unqualified obedience is gone. The church looks to the blood of Christ for the removing of sin more than it looks to obedience through the Holy Spirit to remove sin. This is the same general attitude that Paul referred to in Romans, where he was accused of advocating sin, so that people could receive more of Christ’s grace. Thus we have the teaching where someone decides that if they can do good by telling a lie, they will do it; if someone decides he can save his own life by killing someone else, he will do it; and one decides to go ahead and work on the Sabbath when a conflict arises, and wait until God works it out that he doesn’t have to. Immediate unquestioned obedience is out of the question. We seldom obey and wait on God to deliver us. We are self-willed. God has to wait on us to get around to obeying.
The beliefs of the church have been paganized. Idolatry is practiced. The idol is the self. The self determines when it is good to lie, or kill, or observe the Sabbath. You pick when you will obey.
The people in the WCG and ex-WCG churches today differ enormously from their progenitors in the Radio Church of God. The main difference is their attitude toward obedience. Today’s Church of God people would consider those people unwise radical extremists, even if they had been some of those people at that time. But God worked through those people in a way He is not working through Church of God people today. Some who see this look back and try to find the point at which the church had perfect doctrine, and copy that. But the church never had perfect doctrine, nor will it. What the church did have was an obedient attitude.
When people who had been married more than once learned that Christ said they committed adultery by marrying a divorced woman, many said, “Whatever it takes to obey, I will obey.” Today most Christians would scoff at such an idea. But know this: if you are not willing to do that, if necessary, then you are not one of Christ’s disciples. If you do not love God more than anyone on earth, more than yourself, if your hand would not sacrifice Isaac — you are not Christ’s disciple.
“He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me,” Matthew 10:37, 38.
Convenient obedience does not give the full opportunity to show love for God. The highest point in Abraham’s life, a moment that leaps through all the history of mankind, was when his arm clenched to bring the knife down on his only son Isaac.
Very inconvenient obedience.
Yhwh purposely brought Abraham to that point. Called him out of Ur, promised him the land and a child to inherit that land, had him wait until he was a hundred years old before the kid came — then told Abraham to kill him. God worked with Abraham all those years, until he finally brought him along to one of the highest moments in human history, when Abraham had the opportunity to clench his arm muscle and show his complete love for his Creator.
Abraham obeyed, and Yhwh Yireh — Ywhw our Provider — provided for him, and took care of him, as he obeyed. After Abraham stepped out, Yhwh stepped in. And this whole experience was for Abraham’s benefit.
When Christ died His excruciating death, was that bad for Him or good? It was for our benefit, but the scriptures say that He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
When the apostles were martyred for God, was that bad for them or good? That was the ultimate purpose and the high point of their lives. Their suffering in a sinful world gave them honor for eternity.
When we have the chance to show our love for God by refusing to work on the Sabbath day, and lose money because of that, is that bad for us or good for us, ultimately? If our situation requires us to be single, is our obeying God bad for us or good?
Yhwh took OT Israel and penned them in against the Red Sea. Purposely trapped them between the waves of water and the waves of Egyptian soldiers. After being delivered from Pharoah, three days later they ran out of water. Then they ran out of food. Then out of water again. Finally He led them to the country they were to take over. And it’s men were twelve feet tall. Big Dudes.
God did not have to pen them in against the sea. He could have given them water before their throats parched. He could have given them manna before their stomachs growled. He could have wiped out the Canaanites before Israel got to the Promised Land, so that when Israel peeked in they only saw the giant grapes and not the giant men.
Do you see a pattern there?
This life is a time of testing, and enduring, and growing. That is the purpose of this life — to learn to always rely on and obey God. It is during the tests and trials that we really learn this.
The church has spent the last decades looking for comfort instead of looking for Christ, dwelling in convenience instead of conviction, living in laxity instead of love for God. We have now been blessed with the knowledge that our salvation does not come from a church; it comes from Christ, and He wants us to show our love for Him and our Father, as He showed love for His Father. This means obedience and sacrifice and opportunity.
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26.
We are now entering the Shadrach times, when the music of the sackbut and cornet will play, and all the earth will bow down to the image of the beast. Only those who are with Yhwh God, with His name written on their foreheads as it was written on the forehead of Aaron the priest, with His mind in their minds, will shut their ears to the sweet siren music and be willing to walk hand in hand with Christ into the fiery furnace.
These are cursed times, and these are blessed times, the best, and the worst. The worst in the history of the world for mankind in general, and the best opportunity for God’s people, to show that we love Him with all our hearts.
God’s people will suffer great “abuse.”
“And it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations,” Revelation 13:7.
There will be great talk from theologians about showing love and mercy for the brethren, how no one should be forced to suffer such abuse, that no one should die for a doctrine, and how we should all just get along with the society. This theology of disbelief and disobedience will deceive most. But for a few, there is opportunity in these times. A chance to show our great love for the Great God, by giving our total devotion to Him, by dedicating ourselves fully to Him, and by even laying down our lives for Him.
If you have an opportunity in your life to show your love for Yhwh God, when obedience to Him requires sacrifice from you, and in Satan’s world it always will —
Then be thankful to Him, and take it.
This life is not the goal. This life is not the end. This life is the training and testing ground for those who will be given the gift of eternal life. Those who are not obedient will not receive the gift. Those who are obedient will receive more than a hundredfold for their trouble. And it is trouble to be obedient in Satan’s world. God Himself allows this. The great opportunity to be obedient only comes in the face of adversity, when there is some circumstance present that strongly makes you want to disobey, such as when Abraham sacrificed Isaac. Or when Yhwh sacrificed Yahshua, and the Son of God sweated drops of blood because of His distress, yet He obeyed. All the faithful of Hebrews 11 suffered great distress and persecution.
If you seek to obey God fully, you will have trouble, and distress, and burdens to bear. “All that will live Godly in Christ Yahshua shall suffer persecution,” II Timothy 3:12. We must be thankful for that.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience,” James 1:2, 3, NKJV.
“...and when they had called the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Yahshua, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name,” Acts 5:40-42.
Can’t Be That Hard?
Actually, most of the argument in favor of multiple mates and against marriage for life does not come from scriptural study. It comes from the feeling inside Christians that for a divorced person to live alone is just too hard. Human reason can’t believe that God would require something so hard of His people.
Brother, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Paul spoke of his time as being a time of present distress. We today live in an age destined for the greatest distress ever. Already we see Sodomites gaining control of the western world, persecuting any and all who would dare refuse to approve their perversions. They attack the Boy Scouts, preachers, politicians — have even physically surrounded and attacked churches with Christians inside.
This is as prophesied. These are perilous times, when perverts rule the earth and control the commerce. Don’t be shocked. Soon there will come the time when they will control everything that can be bought and sold, and all wealth that can be earned. They will control every nation and tongue and tribe, and even be given power to overcome the saints, putting some of them to death. But this is all as it should be. Just as Yhwh allowed Israel of old to be backed up against the Red Sea, so Yhwh allows Israel of today, which is those people who follow Christ and actually try to live as He lived, to be backed up against a sea of humanity, all following Satan, and all surrounding those few commandment keepers who won’t be swept along with the tide. Just as Israel’s only way out was to trust in Yhwh God, so the only way out for spiritual Israel today is to trust in Yhwh God.
The easygoing Christians, the get-along go-alongs, those who just can’t believe that God would require His people to actually stand up for Him, and if necessary die for Him, will be washed under the collapsing walls of the sea of Satan. Their human reason will tell them it’s just too hard to stand up for Yhwh God, just as it now tells them that it’s too hard for a person to be true to God and to one mate for life. Many will be trapped by the great deception occurring at the end time, and they will suffer the wrath of Almighty God, if they don’t repent.
In these terrible times, many have already been trapped by Satan’s deceptions. Many have thrown away their marriages, or had their mates taken away by the lusts of the world. Every divorce has many victims, and many of you are among them.
The only way out of this deception is to turn to God, obey Him with all your might, and let Him lead you through your life. Don’t reason around obedience. The things that Christ taught are unnatural for the natural mind. Your human mind can always find a good reason to disobey. Don’t be satisfied with sin. You must sweat your own drops of blood, pray all night in the garden, deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Christ. From this, you will learn obedience, just as Yahshua learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
“Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.
“And every one that has forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life,” Matthew 19:29.
For you who have not been snared in the Satanic trap of divorce, and still have the lifelong mate that God gave you, the knowledge that your marriage is for life is a most tremendous blessing. You can learn to love your better half with the whole of your being. To forgive her when she is bad, to rejoice with her when she is good, to help her when she is ill and labor with her when she is well, and go through your life growing with this one person whom God has given you. And she does the same with you. You, your mate, your children and all the world know that you are married for life. You have become one flesh, one entity, one family. You live alike and you think alike. There are no doubts or questions hanging over your marriage. Conflict turns into peace, pride into humility, and you customarily put the other person before your selfish self. There is no moving out if things don’t work out. Instead you are always moving on, growing together in the grace and knowledge of God, living, loving, learning to have the perfect love story.
And all this is the great lesson of the way we are to be with God. He spends our lifetime forgiving us when we are evil, rejoicing with us when we are good. There is never any doubt that He will ever forsake us. He gives us love without limit. We live and learn and grow in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance, faith — until someday we are given the gift of eternal life, changed into a perfect spirit being, who can live at peace forever with countless other loving spirit beings.
Dan L. White, of Hartsville, Missouri, is one of the best Church of God writers today. His writing style is unique. Dan’s razor-sharp logic is nevertheless kind and gentle. His extraordinary 38-page article, “Marriage is for Life — Not From Wife to Wife,” is a real gem. For forty years, from 1934 until 1974, the Radio/Worldwide Church of God taught marriage for life. Then, in 1974, this profound doctrinal truth was destroyed, as the Church of God adopted the standard Protestant teaching of open divorce, divorce for any reason, or no reason. The new teaching is hard-hearted, unmerciful, and has caused numerous original marriage families to break up.
White’s brilliant analysis provides more than food for thought; some of his paragraphs are whole sermons!
“People often think that if a person holds a certain doctrine, that makes him a believer. For example, Seventh Day Adventists might say that keeping the Sabbath marks a believer. But in World War II, almost all of the German SDA’s supported Adolf Hitler, killing in his cause. Hitler said if they didn’t support him, he would get them. God said He would protect them. So they believed Adolf more than God, and served Adolf. They weren’t believers in God at all. They were just Sabbath-keepers.
“Old WCG people often used the phrase ‘before I came to a knowledge of the truth.’ When asked what truth, they would usually answer, ‘the Sabbath, the holy days, and not eating pork,’ some doctrines of the church at that time. When they were asked what they believed about something specific, they would almost invariably give the official position of their church. Maybe even offer a helpful booklet. But when the church changed its official doctrines, their truth changed. Therefore most of these people, who once mused arrogantly about unbelievers departing, were shown to be unbelievers themselves. They did not believe in Yhwh God, the same yesterday, today, and forever, with eternal truths which last through the ages. They believed in that particular church, — never the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, always changing from decade to decade.” Truth never changes; people sure do!
“In the first 40 years,” White says, “many were blessed by the Church’s teachings. In the past 30 years, many have been cursed by the Church’s teachings. . . . If you have been trapped by Christianity’s anti-marriage teaching, and you have to bear the burden of that, there is someone standing beside you [Yahshua] ready to help carry your pole. Your ultimate healing will not come from any earthly marriage, but from your spiritual wedding to Yahshua, Yhwh’s salvation, which He provided for you.” The untold damage and suffering caused by today’s prevalent harsh and mean wide open divorce doctrine has ruined thousands of lives. There is healing available in a return to the Messiah.
The current doctrine takes the “exception clause” of Matthew 19, and makes it the rule. Many Churches use the “exception” to nullify God’s law of marriage. Christ introduced a new way of thinking. His concept of love without limits astonished the disciples’ carnal minds. If you understand that marriage is for life, then you have come a long way towards understanding the mind of God.
Dan White’s exegesis of I Corinthians 7 is one of the most powerful and elegant explanations I have ever seen.
“God wants us to obey Him,” Dan reminds us, “and when He gives us occasions to show our love for Him, these are the greatest opportunities in our lives. . . . The people in the WCG and ex-WCG churches today differ enormously from their progenitors in the Radio Church of God. The main difference is their attitude toward obedience. . . . God worked through those people in a way He is not working through Church of God people today. Some who see this look back and try to find the point at which the church had perfect doctrine, and copy that. But the church never had perfect doctrine, nor will it. What the church did have was an obedient attitude.
“When people who had been married more than once learned that Christ said they committed adultery by marrying a divorced woman, many said, ‘Whatever it takes to obey, I will obey.’ Today most Christians would scoff at such an idea. But know this: if you are not willing to do that, if necessary, then you are not one of Christ’s disciples. If you do not love God more than anyone on earth, more than yourself, if your hand would not sacrifice Isaac — you are not Christ’s disciple. . . .
“The church has spent the last decades looking for comfort instead of looking for Christ, dwelling in convenience instead of conviction, living in laxity instead of love for God. We have now been blessed with the knowledge that our salvation does not come from a Church; it comes from Christ, and He wants us to show our love for Him and our Father, as He showed love for His Father. This means obedience and sacrifice and opportunity.”
God gives us love without limit. Will we extend this same unconditional love to our mates? Dan White says, “Pro-divorce people make adultery, mating with someone besides the original mate, the only sin you don’t have to repent of — to actually stop.” Will we learn the lesson that marriage is for life, and not from wife to wife?
Dan White’s article, “Marriage is for Life — Not From Wife to Wife,” is available on the Internet at www.giveshare.org/family/marriageforlife.html. Those who do not have Internet access may request a free copy from Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849.
— review by Richard C. Nickels