Biblical Reasons To Divorce For Adultery

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Several passages in God's Holy Word cite biblical reasons to divorce for adultery. An Old Testament passage offers a rebuke for those who deal treacherously or commit adultery. "Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously" ((Malachi 2:14-15).

In the New Testament, biblical reasons to divorce for adultery are cited in I Corinthians 6:15-18. This passage berates adulterers for being "joined to a harlot" in the act of fornication: "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body" (I Corinthians 6:13-18). Clearly, both scriptures imply that an adulterer violates the marriage vow by "joining themselves to a harlot;" tearing asunder, or apart, what God has joined together; by dealing treacherously with the wife (or husband); and by putting the divorced wife in a position to commit adultery. Hence, several biblical reasons to divorce for adultery are apparent.

Because we live in a society where divorce and remarriage are rampant, many fail to realize the severity of breaking the marriage covenant. Holy matrimony was ordained by God to enable males and females to form a lifelong intimate bond in which to reproduce offspring. The one-flesh union of two individuals consummated by sexual intercourse and sealed with a verbal vow makes a marriage. In the eyes of God, when the wedding is consummated, couples are no longer two but a single entity. But when a spouse decides to join themselves with someone outside of the bonds of holy matrimony, one of the primary biblical reasons to divorce for adultery has been committed: tearing asunder the flesh union ordained by God to become sexually united with an illicit lover.

Where is meant by tearing? Imagine a husband and wife who have been married for several years. They not only share the same body fluids and an intermingling of DNA, but also share an interchange of cells to form an entirely new human being--a child. Even in childless couples, the union of biological material through sexual intercourse joins them! The "tearing" is not a physical severance of tissue, muscle and sinew; but a spiritual violation of a sacred union sanctioned by God at the altar, consummated in the marriage bed, and perpetuated throughout a lifetime. Over the years, matrimony not only melds the flesh, but it "marries" two distinctly different minds, hearts and souls. That holy union which blends two bodies, hearts, minds and souls creates a formidable force in the earth; and typifies the bond that Jesus Christ has with the Church at large. Obviously, biblical reasons to divorce for adultery not only include the treacherous tearing of flesh joined by a holy covenant, supposedly until death, but also the violation of spiritual laws enacted by God.

I Corinthians 6:13-18 also cites biblical reasons to divorce for adultery in that the physical body of the believer belongs to God, first and secondly to the husband or wife. When an individual becomes a born-again Christian by renouncing or turning away from sin, receiving by faith the privilege to become a son of God through the shed blood of Jesus at Calvary, they become a new creature. II Corinthians 5:17-18 declare that "old things are passed away, behold all things are become new and all things are of God." Therefore, that new creation in Christ Jesus belongs totally to God: body, soul and spirit. An unmarried Christian should not become defiled with harlots, nor should the married believer become defiled by committing adultery. Regardless of what society says, extramarital and premarital affairs are against the principles of God.

In the Old Testament, wives had very few human rights and little self-determination. If the husband put away his wife and became married to another woman, the former wife would have to take another husband while the first was alive. But upon remarrying she would be labeled an outcast and an adulteress. Here again, the first marriage created a one-flesh union that was broken by the first husband's decision to divorce and leave the former wife without a spiritual covering. In today's free-wheeling society, second marriages do not qualify as biblical reasons to divorce for adultery; but repeatedly marrying, divorcing, and remarrying, especially by Bible-believing Christians, should be avoided.

While biblical reasons to divorce for adultery may be scripturally and morally justified, Christian couples must determine if the marriage is worth saving. Many believers are in second and third marriage--some as a result of unsaved spouses, others as a result of personal transgressions. But if Christians are to believe and practice biblical truths, there must be a refusal to adopt the world's ways of dealing with marital relationships and a return to the first principles of God's holy Word. Forgiveness is the first line of defense against divorce and every option should be exercised before couples decide to dissolve the marriage.

Biblical Reasons For Divorce And Remarriage

Because very few biblical reasons for divorce and remarriage exist, individuals seeking to marry for the second time should exercise caution. As ordained by God, the institution of holy matrimony was originally created to last a lifetime. But under the Mosaic covenant, God allowed men to divorce wives for one of two reasons: moral uncleanness or fornication. A divorced woman, however, was not free to take another husband; in so doing she was labeled an adulteress. One of the biblical reasons for divorce and remarriage was the death of a woman's first husband. "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord" (I Corinthians 7:39).

In spite of today's penchant for multiple marriages, God still desires couples to strive to stay married. "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery" (Matthew 5:31-32). "...unto 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" (I Corinthians 7:10-11).

In the twenty-first century, the prevalence of failed marriages has caused individuals to go to the altar more than once in a lifetime. Statistics indicate the average first-time wedding fails within ten years! Small wonder that Christian or non-Christian, people steadily search for biblical reasons for divorce and remarriage for another chance at lasting happiness. Has God's Word changed? No, but His sovereign will has. Because believers are no longer under the Old Testament law but under grace, God does allow divorced men or women to marry again. But, believers should strive to marry mates who share the same faith in Jesus Christ. Biblical reasons for divorce and remarriage found in I Corinthians, Chapter 7 further admonish ex-husbands or wives that to marry again is not a sin; but choosing to take another mate puts them in jeopardy of having "trouble in the flesh," that is, in the natural or carnal, emotional, or physical realm:

"Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God. Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you" (I Corinthians 7:24-28).

Love may be better the second time around, but a new relationship can come with new challenges. A man or woman twice wed may find themselves faced with trying to overcome some of the same problems that led to the demise of the first relationship. The belief that a second union will result in a fairytale existence is simply not true. While a union with a different partner may be unlike the first relationship, in almost every marriage, certain problems will continue to come up; generally falling into three categories: money, love, or family. Going into a new relationship with the understanding that a new love may not be perfect will prevent couples from becoming discouraged or disillusioned. The key is to avoid biblical reasons for divorce and remarriage in a second union so that a third walk down the aisle will not be necessary.

In spite of the individuals involved, conflicts surrounding money, romance, or family may still arise. Unless they are wealthy, couples in first or second relationships can expect to encounter financial hurdles, especially if one partner is a spendthrift; the other more frugal. Emotions can also run high in couples who have experienced infidelity in a former relationship. Because the temptation to attribute an ex-spouses negative behavior to a new mate, it may take several months before former husbands or wives develop the kind of trust that make a new union last. Couples entering into a new relationship need not think that they will be exempt from interfering in-laws or naysayers. Some well meaning friends and family members may not want to accept an outsider. These are just a few of "troubles in the flesh" I referenced by Corinthians, Chapter 7 in light of biblical reasons for divorce and remarriage.

Individuals who search for biblical reasons for divorce and remarriage must approach the Word of God honestly. God's grace is extended to all who believe, but He is concerned not so much with a desire to wed again, but with one's motive. Spouses on the verge of a marital breakup should not rush to end a union God views as holy or binding. A man or woman eager to find happiness cannot build a future based on lies, deceit and infidelity. A spouse may be tempted to end a first marriage just in order to marry another, but God's abhors a deceitful heart. A deceitful misapplication of biblical reasons for divorce and remarriage only places men and women in jeopardy of His judgment. It is far better to wait on the Lord to remedy marital conflict or bring reconciliation to a troubled household, than to enter into yet another relationship that can only be doomed to fail because of deceit.

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