Hi to all my Forum Friends,
In a TimesDaily Religion Forum discussion I began several months ago titled "The Prolific Forum Poster!" -- a Forum Friend and I somehow wandered into a dialogue on prayer and divorce. Because these are both very important issues, I want to discuss both. But to have some semblance of brevity I have split them into two separate discussions.
We have already discussed "What Did Jesus Mean - Regarding Prayer?"
After bringing prayer into the discussion -- my Forum Friend immediately went into another of his favorite talking points when addressing those of us in the Christian faith: Divorce.
I can only assume that his interest in divorce can be traced back to posts he wrote several years ago when we were discussing the Christian's relationship with Jesus Christ in comparison to our relationship with our spouse and family. We were discussing what we believe Jesus meant in Luke 14:26, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple."
I stated that no matter how much I love my wife and family, Jesus Christ must always be first. And, this Friend, sharing with us how his ex-wife had been less than desirable, yet his present wife was the light of his life, told us, "No one, not even Jesus Christ, comes before my wife!" Yet, Jesus tells us that unless He is first, we cannot be His disciples. So, is my Friend a Christian believer as he professes to be, or not? We will leave that between him and God.
Taking a closer look at what Jesus is telling us in Luke 14:26, I do not believe He is saying that we should desert our families -- only that the Light we should be following is Him, and Him only. And, as Christians, we should be guiding those in our families toward that Light.
As for myself, I have never hidden the fact that I married as a young man in the Air Force and had a wonderful wife who passed away many years ago. And, I have never hidden the fact that I loved her three young daughters then, and love them today, as my own. We were divorced long before I met Dory and long before I became a Christian believer. My Forum Friend seems to overlook the divorce in own his life -- yet, he wants to hang me on the cross of hypocrisy when I share the Gospel. Let's talk about it.
Regarding divorce, my Forum Friend asked me:
Was Jesus wrong when he said to not divorce?
Matthew 5:32, "But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."
Mark 10:11-12, "And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Luke 16:18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
How about God? "'I hate divorce,' says the LORD God of Israel" (Malachi 2:16).
How about Paul? "Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife" (1 Corinthians 7:27).
So, is Jesus wrong? Is God wrong? Is Paul wrong? Is the Bible wrong?
Seems to me that you have a problem following God's commandments. Here is a verse you might like.
1 John 2:3-4, "And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says 'I know him' but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him."
Since my Forum Friend is particularly interested in and concerned about my marital status, let's talk about that issue. In 1956, over thirty years before I became a Christian believer -- I met and married a beautiful lady who had been previously married in her Roman Catholic church, had three small girls (3, 4, and 18 months), and for good reason had divorced her husband.
We were married in a civil ceremony. And, even though I was not Roman Catholic and knew little about that religion, I promised to help her raise the children in her Roman Catholic faith. Shortly after our marriage, the Air Force sent me to Korea. In Korea, even though I explained to the Roman Catholic chaplain at Osan Air Force Base that I was not interested in becoming a Roman Catholic -- that I only wanted to take catechism classes to learn about that religion so that I could assist in raising the girls in their mother's faith and church, he refused. So, I began my own studies of Roman Catholicism without him. And, I spent about twenty years attending that church, taking catechism lessons, and studying the Roman Catholic faith.
During the year that I was in Korea, my wife talked with her Roman Catholic priest in Denver, explaining the reasons for her divorce and asking what she and I should do -- remain married as we were, or get a civil divorce to end our civil marriage? His advice was to stay married and raise the children in the Roman Catholic church. That is what we did when I returned from Korea. And we continued after I was later discharged from the Air Force and began my career in the computer industry.
Matter of fact, while working as a Computer Field Engineer for Burroughs Corporation at the Norfolk Naval Supply Depot, I helped coach the basketball team at the Roman Catholic elementary school my girls attended in Norfolk, Virginia. I still have a very nice set of cuff links the team gave me in appreciation after the season.
After six years, she and I separated and eventually, years later, divorced -- but we remained close friends until her death on September 2, 2001. She had remarried and had a long, happy marriage. And, on September 2, 1977, Dory and I were married and have been happily married for 37 years and counting. Through my marriage to Dory, I became a Christian believer in 1987.
So, how was our situation to be resolved? Should Dory and I have divorced to allow me to remarry my first wife? That could not be, for she was already happily married. Should Dory and I end our marriage, the relationship which helped me to become a Christian believer?
And, since my first wife had been married in the Roman Catholic church and then divorced from her first husband -- was our civil marriage already null and void in the eyes of God? As you can see, as a Christian believer -- this was sort of a Catch 22 situation. So, am I wrong to believe that my Christian faith today is valid, that my Christian marriage to Dory is valid and blessed by God, and that the Christian ministry I am doing is blessed by God? No, I do not think I am wrong.
Let me offer this article for additional thought on the subject of divorce and remarriage:
Question: "Is remarriage after divorce always adultery?"
Answer: Before we even begin to answer this question, let us reiterate, "God hates divorce" (Malachi 2:16). The pain, confusion, and frustration most people experience after a divorce are surely part of the reason that God hates divorce. Even more difficult, biblically, than the question of divorce, is the question of remarriage. The vast majority of people who divorce either remarry or consider getting remarried. What does the Bible say about this?
Matthew 19:9 says, "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." See also Matthew 5:32. These Scriptures clearly state that remarriage after a divorce is adultery, except in the instance of "marital unfaithfulness." In regards to this "exception clause" and its implications, please read the following articles:
- What does the Bible say about divorce and remarriage?
- I am divorced. Can I remarry?
It is our view that there are certain instances in which divorce and remarriage are permitted without the remarriage being considered adultery.
These instances would include unrepentant adultery, physical abuse of spouse or children, and abandonment of a believing spouse by an unbelieving spouse. We are not saying that a person under such circumstances should remarry. The Bible definitely encourages remaining single or reconciliation over remarriage (1 Corinthians 7:11). At the same time, it is our view that God offers His mercy and grace to the innocent party in a divorce and allows that person to remarry without it being considered adultery.
A person who gets a divorce for a reason other than the reasons listed above, and then gets remarried has committed adultery (Luke 16:18). The question then becomes, is this remarriage an "act" of adultery - OR - a "state" of adultery.
The present tense of the Greek in Matthew 5:32; 19:9; and Luke 16:18 can indicate a continuous state of adultery. At the same time, the present tense in Greek does not always indicate continuous action. Sometimes it simply means that something occurred (Aoristic, Punctiliar, or Gnomic present). For example, the word "divorces" in Matthew 5:32 is present tense, but divorcing is not a continual action. It is our view that remarriage, no matter the circumstances, is not a continual state of adultery. Only the act of getting remarried itself is adultery.
In the Old Testament Law, the punishment for adultery was death (Leviticus 20:10). At the same time, Deuteronomy 24:1-4 mentions remarriage after a divorce, (but) does not call it adultery, and does not demand the death penalty for the remarried spouse. The Bible explicitly says that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), but nowhere explicitly states that God hates remarriage.
The Bible nowhere commands a remarried couple to divorce. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 does not describe the remarriage as invalid. Ending a remarriage through divorce would be just as sinful as ending a first marriage through divorce. Both would include the breaking of vows before God, between the couple, and in front of witnesses.
No matter the circumstances, once a couple is remarried, they should strive to live out their married lives in fidelity, in a God-honoring way, with Christ at the center of their marriage.
A marriage is a marriage. God does not view the new marriage as invalid or adulterous. A remarried couple should devote themselves to God, and to each other – and honor Him by making their new marriage a lasting and Christ-centered one (Ephesians 5:22-33).
Recommended Resources: "Divorce and Remarriage: 4 Views" edited By H. Wayne House
So, how should we view divorce? We must have the same view as God "'I hate divorce,' says the LORD God of Israel" (Malachi 2:16). God hates divorce because it against His standard for marriage and family; God hates divorce for what it does to a family; God hates divorce for what it does to our Christian community and to our society. Divorce is bad in the eyes of God. There is no other way to say it. But, wouldn't a second divorce, to correct a first sin -- be just as bad in the eyes of God? All sin is bad in the eyes of God
One more thought from a slightly different angle. When Jesus Christ went to the cross, He was crucified to make atonement, to "pay in full" all sin debt -- past, present, and future.
Study Guide for John 19 by David Guzik
b. It is finished! Jesus' final word (tetelestai in the ancient Greek) is the cry of a winner. Jesus had finished the eternal purpose of the cross. It stands today as a finished work, the foundation of all Christian peace and faith, paying in full the debt we righteously owe to God.
i. At some point before He died, before the veil was torn in two, before He cried out, "It is finished" -- an awesome spiritual transaction took place. God the Father laid upon God the Son all the guilt and wrath our sin deserved, and He bore it in Himself perfectly, totally satisfying the wrath of God for us.
When Jesus Christ died on the cross He made possible the forgiveness of ALL our sins -- past, present, and future. In other words, He provided the door to full forgiveness for all people. But, unless we open that door and allow Him to come in and be our most intimate Friend, our Lord and Savior (Revelation 3:20) -- we make His payment on our behalf null and void. He has signed His "Eternal Life" cashier's check with His precious blood, and has stretched out His hands to offer it to us. If we will not receive it, we are still the poor, hungry, homeless lost souls we were before He purchased our pardon.
Let's say you are a homeless person, living on the streets, and Bill Gates comes to you and offers you a cashier's check for one billion dollars. If you accept his free gift -- you are very rich. If you refuse his free gift -- you are still a pitiful, hungry, lost soul living in the streets of desolation.
That is what Christ has done. He has come to you, a lost, homeless soul -- and offered you the immeasurable richness of eternal life in the presence of God. If you accept, you have an eternal home in heaven (John 14:1-3). If you refuse, you have an eternal home living on the desolate streets of hell.
When we enter into that special relationship with Jesus Christ, when we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, we are adopted into the family of God (John 1:12). And, we are indwelled and sealed in Him for eternity (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30). All our sins are forgiven, we are made a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
When we place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, all of our sins are forgiven. That includes past, present, and future, big or small. Believers do not have to keep asking for forgiveness or repenting in order to have their sins forgiven. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and when they are forgiven, they are all forgiven (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43).
Let's look at the following article explaining the relationship between salvation and full forgiveness:
Question: "What is the relationship between salvation and forgiveness?"
Answer: When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we receive salvation and forgiveness. But that’s not all. The Bible says we also receive justification, redemption, reconciliation, atonement, propitiation, and regeneration. Each of these theological terms expresses wonderful truths about the blessing we receive when Jesus becomes our Savior. Salvation and forgiveness, while related, are not exactly the same.
The term salvation comes from the Greek word sozo, which means “to be delivered, rescued.” Salvation is deliverance from the penalty of sin, that is, eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23; Matthew 25:46). Salvation is God’s rescuing us from our deserved fate. Salvation also includes a more immediate deliverance from the power of sin in this life. Sin has lost its dominion over the saved ones (Romans 6:14). Faith in Jesus Christ rescues us from the empty and meaningless life described in Ecclesiastes and provides us with a life that is abundant and fruitful (John 10:10; Galatians 5:22–23).
The term forgiveness comes from the Greek word aphiemi, which means “to let go, to give up, to keep no longer.” When Jesus forgives us, our sins, trespasses, iniquities, and transgressions are erased, wiped off the record. Forgiveness of sin is analogous to financial debt being erased. When God forgives us of our sins, we are free. Our sins are wiped out. God will never hold them against us (Psalm 103:12).
Salvation and forgiveness are closely related. There is no salvation without forgiveness. Salvation is God’s delivering us from the consequences of sin. Forgiveness is God’s erasing our sin debt. To use a financial illustration, forgiveness is God’s shredding the documents that list our debt, and salvation is God’s letting us out of debtors’ prison. Praise God for the wonderful salvation and forgiveness He has provided. May our lives reflect gratitude for all He has done for us (Romans 12:1).
Recommended Resources:"Making Sense of Salvation" by Wayne Grudem.
I suppose the most pressing question at this point is: "When Jesus Christ died on the cross -- did He die once for all sin, or not?"
Romans 6:10, "For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God."
1 Peter 3:18, "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;. . ."
YES, Jesus Christ died once, for all sin.
Other questions raised by many espousing a liberal theology, or those non-believers who want to raise a wall between the Christian believers and our God, are: "So, what happens if you die before confessing your latest sins?" - OR - "So, because you are a 'forgiven Christian' -- you are free to sin all you want and God will just ignore those sins, right?" Wrong! Both of these assumptive questions, i.e., loaded questions, are merely fishing expeditions -- but, without valid bait on their hooks.
The following article nicely addresses the issue of sin, forgiveness, and our salvation:
Question: "Do Christians have to keep asking for forgiveness for their sins?"
Answer: A frequent question is “what happens if I sin, and then I die before I have an opportunity to confess that sin to God?” Another common question is “what happens if I commit a sin, but then forget about it and never remember to confess it to God?” Both of these questions rest on a faulty assumption. Salvation is not a matter of believers trying to confess and repent from every sin they commit before they die. Salvation is not based on whether a Christian has confessed and repented of every sin.
Yes, we should confess our sins to God as soon as we are aware that we have sinned. However, we do not always need to be asking God for forgiveness. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, all of our sins are forgiven. That includes past, present, and future, big or small. Believers do not have to keep asking for forgiveness or repenting in order to have their sins forgiven. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and when they are forgiven, they are all forgiven (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43).
What we are to do is confess our sins: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). What this verse tells us to do is “confess” our sins to God. The word “confess” means “to agree with.” When we confess our sins to God, we are agreeing with God that we were wrong, that we have sinned.
Bill Gray note: This is us "owning" our sin, acknowledging our sin. God is never surprised by our sins. The word "Oops!" is not in His vocabulary. God is omniscient and knows all that we will ever do -- before we do it. So, our confession is us agreeing with God that we have sinned and want Him to forgive us of our sin and to restore our close fellowship with Him, as Father and child.
God forgives us, through confession, on an ongoing basis because of the fact that He is “faithful and just.” How is God “faithful and just”? He is faithful by forgiving sins, which He has promised to do for all those who receive Christ as Savior. He is just by applying Christ’s payment for our sins, recognizing that the sins have indeed been atoned for.
At the same time, 1 John 1:9 does indicate that somehow forgiveness is dependent on our confessing our sins to God. How does this work if all of our sins are forgiven the moment we receive Christ as Savior?
It seems that what the apostle John is describing here is “relational” forgiveness. All of our sins are forgiven “positionally” the moment we receive Christ as Savior. This positional forgiveness guarantees our salvation and promise of an eternal home in heaven. When we stand before God after death, God will not deny us entrance into heaven because of our sins. That is positional forgiveness.
The concept of relational forgiveness is based on the fact that when we sin, we offend God and grieve His Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). While God has ultimately forgiven us of the sins we commit, they still result in a blocking or hindrance in our relationship with God.
A young boy who sins against his father is not cast out of the family. A godly father will forgive his children unconditionally. At the same time, a good relationship between father and son cannot be achieved until the relationship is restored. This can only occur when a child confesses his mistakes to his father and apologizes. That is why we confess our sins to God -- not to maintain our salvation, but to bring ourselves back into close fellowship with the God who loves us and has already forgiven us.
Recommended Resources: "Overcoming Sin and Temptation"by John Owen.
So, back to my Forum Friend's question regarding my early divorce, my remarriage of 37 joyfully blessed years, and counting, to Dory -- and my relationship with my God. All is well!
Yes, I sinned against and grieved God when I divorced and when I remarried. But, flawed mortal Christian that I am, when I received His "Paid In Full" pardon written in the precious blood of Jesus Christ -- ALL MY SINS were forgiven, I was indwelled and sealed with the Holy Spirit -- and I am good to go!
My Forum Friend, I sincerely pray that you can say the same, that you truly have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. For, with all my heart, I do want to fellowship with you in heaven one day. At that time, we can look back upon all our disagreements on the Religion Forum and have a good, Christian laugh. And, I am positive that Jesus Christ will join us in laughter.
The eternally important question has to be: Do YOU know for sure that YOU will spend eternity in heaven in the presence of God? If you are not sure, can we talk about it?
God bless, have a wonderful, blessed day,