Marriage and Divorce
Marriage can be very powerful and life giving. The Lord designed it because He is family, it's a part of His nature. Because of this, Satan has waged a relentless war against the family. He knows if he can destroy a husband's and wife's marriage, then he can do great damage to their souls. And if there are children involved, Satan can do much harm to their impressionable minds and soft hearts. We must abide in the love of God and prevent Satan from destroying our families.
The scriptures give us a very clear understanding on subjects such as marriage, divorce, and adultery. However, many in the modern church are distorting these scriptures with their own beliefs in order to live their lives how they want. Leaders and believers twist the scriptures to justify their sins. We must return to the solid foundation of the word of God. Continuing to deviate from His loving word will further the destruction of Christian families, and leave the church in a state of division and hurt.
Mercy and Grace
There was a period of time in human history when the Lord permitted His people to get divorced (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). He allowed this because of their hardness of hearts (Matthew 19:7-8). Since people did not have the option of having God live inside of them, many divorces occurred. Since divorce was permitted under the law, God didn't have to charge people with sin. Since He didn't have to charge people with sin, they didn't have to face judgment under the curse of the law. This was the mercy of a loving God.
There is a 50 percent divorce rate among unbelievers today in America. Unbelievers have no power within themselves to fulfill a marriage covenant. Christians on the other hand, have Christ living in them. If Christ is allowed to live through them, He most certainly will fulfill the marriage covenant. The issue is that many in the church are not yielding to Christ and allowing Him to live through them. Therefore the divorce rate in the church is the same as the world at around 50 percent.
The Lord is not pleased with a high divorce rate among His people. He gives His grace that empowers us to live a holy life. He does not give His grace to misuse and cover our own self-centered living. The Son of God is not to be trampled under foot or the Spirit of grace despised (Hebrews 10:26-31). When the Lord empowers us to live a holy life, He expects us to abide in that power and live holy. He is not okay with us justifying our sin and distorting His grace.
The Lord told us that He created a man and a woman to marry and become one flesh, in the beginning (Matthew 19:4-8). He has also told us that He hates divorce: ““For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.”” (Malachi 2:16 NKJV). He has empowered believers, by His Spirit, to fulfill His righteous standards; but the choice is ours.
Divorce and Adultery
““Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32 NKJV).
Biblically there are two reasons for a believer in Christ to get a divorce. The first is when a husband or wife commits the sin of adultery against their spouse. The Greek word for sexual immorality also means: harlotry, adultery, incest, and fornication. The definition of adultery is: "voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse." If a man's wife commits adultery then he is permitted by Christ to divorce her. I believe the man would then be perfectly justified in marrying another woman. He did not break his marriage covenant and therefore should suffer no penalty or discipline. The woman who committed adultery against her husband should not marry another man. She is guilty of adultery and therefore would cause a man to commit adultery if he married her.
If a man divorces his wife and the sin of adultery was not committed by either person, then he will have caused her to commit adultery if she marries another man. Jesus says that if the divorce is for any reason other than sexual immorality, then it would not be a justified divorce. So if a husband chooses to divorce his wife for any number of reasons besides adultery, he is not justified. If the woman then gets remarried, she commits adultery and causes her new spouse to become an adulterer. The woman could only remarry if her ex-husband dies, and releases her from the law in which she is bound (1 Corinthians 7:39, Romans 7:1-3). If the husband who divorced his wife gets remarried, then he obviously commits adultery and causes his new wife to become an adulterer as well.
“So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”” (Mark 10:11-12 NKJV).
Christians do not have permission to marry someone who is divorced (with the exception of believers whose spouses have committed adultery against them; since Jesus states their divorce is legal). If a believer marries a divorced person then they have committed adultery (which is sexual immorality), since they are marrying another's spouse. What God has joined together, no man can separate. Man's own justifications are not sufficient grounds for divorce.
A Believer and an Unbeliever
The second legal reason for a believer to divorce is when his wife is a non-believer, and she chooses to leave and divorce her believing husband (or if a unbelieving husband chooses to leave his believing wife). In this situation, the believer would be free to remarry. Please note that it is not okay for the believer to leave or divorce his/her unbelieving spouse. That would be against the teaching in the scriptures, and considered adultery.
“Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: 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. But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?” (I Corinthians 7:10-16 NKJV).
We should also note that the Lord does not permit two Christians who are divorced, to remarry other people. They must remain unmarried or be reconciled to each other. Any Christian who is divorced and chooses to marry another person, other than their original spouse, is engaging in adultery. This is very serious in the eyes of the Lord, and many in the church have taken His word lightly. The church in America has a sad history of doing whatever she desires, instead of what the Lord desires. This unfortunately proves that we are living by are own self-will, and not by the will of the Lord.
Death and Remarriage
If a believers' spouse dies, then that believer is free to remarry according to the scriptures:
“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.” (I Corinthians 7:39 NKJV).
Adultery of the Heart
““You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28 NKJV).
The eyes of the heart or our imagination are very powerful, and they are a doorway to the spirit realm. We can use them for good, such as focusing on the Lord and seeing Heaven. And we can use the eyes of our hearts for evil as Jesus describes. If a man looks at a woman to arouse his lust, and imagines what it would be like to have her; he then crosses over into sin. As he pictures her and himself together in his mind, he actually commits the sin of adultery or fornication in his heart. If the man does not repent of this sin, he will eventually be given over to demonic powers that will pull him into the literal sin of adultery or fornication. Sin that is committed in the heart, will always manifest in the natural when it becomes fully developed. Evil incubates in the heart until it releases a manifestation of death outside of the person in the physical realm.
If a believer is struggling with uncontrolled sexual thoughts in the eyes of his/her heart, it is a very good indication that they need deliverance. If a believer refuses to believe in Biblical deliverance, or refuses to seek help; the problem will most likely increase and lead to deeper sin. The sin will multiply and become even darker. It will then manifest in fullness and possibly endanger the believers' eternal life in Heaven.
The Curse of Death
“‘The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10 NKJV)
When adultery is committed, the curse of death is released on a persons life. The spirit of death is actually given legal right to enter a believer. The law is still in place and has not been destroyed (Matthew 5:17-19). We must fulfill the law by walking in the Holy Spirit. If we do not walk in the Spirit, then we walk according to the flesh and voluntarily putting ourselves back under the law; and its judgment (Romans 8:1-4 KVJ, Galatians 5:13-18, James 2:8-9).
Judgment and Repentance
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,” (I Corinthians 6:9 NKJV).
Christians who have not repented of their adultery will not inherit the kingdom of God. The definition of inherit is: "to receive as one's portion; come into possession of." Any adulterer who is unrepentant when they die, will not come into possession of the kingdom of God. This is a very fearful and serve judgment.
Believers have the opportunity to repent and have their sins forgiven. One must be truly sorry for their sin. Then out of their sorrow of hurting the Lord and other people, confess their sin of adultery before the Lord. After this the Christian must ask the Lord to forgive his sin. If the believer was genuine, the sin will be forgiven and washed away by the blood of Jesus. At this point the Christian will need to break the curse off of their life. They must take authority over the curse in the name of Jesus, and command the curse to be broken. At this point the believer will be set free from the sin of adultery and the curse of an adulterer.
Divorce and Leadership
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach;” (I Timothy 3:2 NKJV).
Men are not permitted to be apart of the eldership in a city church if they have had more than one wife illegally. Remember, if a man's wife dies or if she commits adultery on him, and he remarries; this would not be considered illegal and he could be a bishop. Let us note that a bishop, overseer, elder, and superintendent are all the same thing according to the Greek words used in scripture. This office is simply the leadership of the church in a city or region made up of apostles, prophets, and teachers. The full teaching on this can be studied in this article: "The Apostolic City Church." A leader that has committed adultery may still function within the city church in his gifting, but the leader cannot be an elder or overseer (one of the main pillars of the church as James, Peter, and John were in Jerusalem). This may sound harsh, but it is not up to our discretion. The Lord has made the decision and put it in His word.
There have been "big named" leaders in the charismatic church who have simply divorced their wives and married another. This is a poor example to any believer who looks up to these leaders, and it can be devastating to new believers. This is the kind of selfishness that destroys children, families, and immature Christians. It also gives occasion for the Lord's enemies to blaspheme. No matter how anointed a person is, the Lord is not pleased with a leader if they commit adultery. Gifting is not a sign of God's approval; it's simply a gift given by unmerited favor. Leaders are not above the law. In fact, they should be leading by example and setting the standard.
If a leader does choose to commit adultery, the last thing they should do is defend themselves and attempt to explain away their sin. Blame shifting is not repentance. They should be honest and take responsibility for their actions. Then the leader should submit to a restoration process from a trusted minister. The Lord will determine if the leader returns to ministry or not, and the timing. Leaders who get divorced and then continue in ministry like nothing happened, should be avoided like the plague. They are walking in lawlessness and are lead by their self-life; not the life of the Lord. These leaders will only lead believers to themselves, not Christ. Christians may be trapped indefinitely in a spiritual wilderness if they sit under a ministry of one of these leaders. Spiritual death awaits.
If a Christian has committed adultery, there is always mercy found at the feet of Jesus for those who are truly repentant. The Lord can make all things new again. He can wash away the sin of adultery so that there is no shame or condemnation when one hears the subject being discussed. If a believer has been forgiven, but is still feeling ashamed and condemned; they are not fully healed or free. Jesus can bring the fulness of this deliverance if He is sought diligently.
We are living in the last days when people are giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons. Many Christians do not want the truth, they simply want their ears tickled. During these dangerous times, we must hold fast to the truth in the word of God. We must get closer to the Truth Himself, and know Him like never before. We absolutely must conform ourselves to Him and His word; and not try to make Him and His word conform to us or our own will. His ways for marriage are pure and holy. We must love and accept His righteous law of love.
- Ty Unruh (2016)