Statement on Separation, Divorce and Remarriage

Equip Rock Ministry, recognizing the authority of God's word have carefully considered and adopted the following statement on separation, divorce and remarriage.

With a sex-crazed Western culture brazenly challenging the beauty of God's design for physical intimacy, many Christians have lost a significant biblical understanding of marriage.  Wrong or insufficient views of marriage, chastity and fidelity have eroded our ability to live God-honoring lives.  Rather than learning and embracing the biblical view of sex, we unknowingly take our cues from unreliable sources on television, radio, the internet and print media.

We are fully committed to the sanctity of marriage. We deplore the high divorce rate and the disintegration of family life in our nation. We believe Christians should not yield to the cultural thinking and ways of our society.

Moses faced the issue of Hebrew wives being dismissed by their husbands.  He was inspired by God to give the law in Deuteronomy 24, not to institute divorce, but to regulate it. When a husband dismissed his wife (sent her away) the Law of Moses was framed to protect a wife against capricious divorce, false accusations by misinformed people in the community, and to further protect the second marriage should the former husband want her back (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).

Divorce and re-marriage are difficult and complex issues.  Different positions on these issues range from "no divorce, no re-marriage under any circumstances to "divorce for any cause." 

To justify a breakdown in a relationship based on the retrospective argument of "bad choice" or "incompatibility" or “I no longer love her/him” runs contrary to the biblical teaching on marriage.  Jesus reminds us it is because of “hard hearts” that people want to abandon their marriage (Mark 10:5).

When a person who has committed adultery and has broken their marriage, turns back to the Lord in repentance, or when a person trusts in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, he/she is forgiven of all past failures, moral or otherwise (1 Corinthians 6:6-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

The church has a great responsibility in displaying the gracious character of God in accepting those who are repentant and show the fruits of repentance, whatever their failure, and encouraging them to experience God's forgiving, restoring grace (1 John 1:9).

Those who are divorced and remarried and subsequently become Christians, or Christians who repentant and renew their faith and commitment to Jesus Christ, should remain in their new marriage.

This is not to say that church discipline is unimportant, nor that the church should not speak and work towards reconciliation in broken marriages and speak of God's opposition to divorce.  The church should not exclude those God accepts, nor should it include those who God excludes (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Revelation 21:8)

Key Bible Passages:  Genesis 1:28;  2:21-25;  Malachai 2:13-16;  Jeremiah 5:7-8;  Matthew 19:2-10; Romans 7:1-4; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16.

Key Bible Terms:

Fornication - In the Bible, Fornication is used as an umbrella word for a wide variety of sexual deviant behaviour including: pre-marital sex, co-habitation, sexual immorality, lesbianism, homosexuality, incest, bestiality as well as adultery - Matthew 5:32; 19:9; I Corinthians 5:1

Adultery - In the Bible Adultery is the term used to describe sexual immorality involving a married person and either a single person, or the spouse of someone else.

Divorce - In the Bible Divorce occurs when marriage break-down is formally recognized in law.

  • In the Bible divorce is considered to be the dissolution of the marriage.
  • A christian legally divorced on biblical grounds is permitted to remarry.

Marriage is intended by God to be an indissoluble union between an adult man and woman and is binding until one of the two persons dies.  The Bible only recognises a hetrosexual marriage.  Genesis 1:28; 2:21-25;  Matthew 19:1-10;  Romans 7:1-3

God intended marriage to be a lasting, intimate, personal relationship between a man and a woman. This union is more than a simple agreement to live together. The Bible teaches that a married couple "become one flesh." This suggests a special relationship of mutual companionship (Genesis 2:18), help (Genesis 2:20) and sexuality (Genesis 2:24).

Therefore to break up a marriage is like tearing apart something God has knit together. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).   The Lord Jesus emphasized this when He said, "What God has joined together, let no one separate" Matthew 19:4-6

The death of a marriage partner terminates the marriage bond leaving the remaining partner free to marry again.  Romans 7:1-3

There are only two biblical grounds for separation.

  • The first is when a non Christian spouse is unwilling to stay because their wife/husband has become a Christian subsequent to the marriage (1 Corinthians 7:8-16).
  • The second biblical grounds for separation is when there is an abusive situation in which it is deemed unwise to remain. Should one partner be experiencing either physical or emotional abuse that becomes intolerable or it is dangerous to remain the abused spoused should either seek a legal court restraining order. Or, where no grounds for divorce exists, that person should seek legal separation for their own protection and that of the children for "God has called us to peace" (I Corinthians7:15). Legal and/or professional help ought to be sought in order that the abusive partner’s behaviour is changed. Only after that is it wise to seek reconciliation.

 

Dr Keith Graham

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